The limited number of academic programs at Brandon University has cost the Bobcats men’s volleyball team one of its local players.
The school doesn’t offer engineering, which Vincent Massey graduate Conan Mickey wants to study, so he has decided to leave the Wheat City for the University of Guelph. Meanwhile, the Gryphons men’s volleyball team is in a rebuilding process and are bringing in Mickey as a left side, which was the icing on the cake for the 19-year-old Brandonite.
"I’m really pumped about it," he said. "I was hoping to get a chance to play volleyball, but I wasn’t expecting a chance to. It was just a thing where I would see what I could get and if I got it I’d be really happy and I got it so I’m really pumped about it."
Mickey spent two seasons with the Bobcats. The 6-foot-2 left side spent his first season on the bench and decided to redshirt last season, knowing that if he did that and transfered schools then he’d be eligible to play right away.
Although he didn’t get much playing time in his BU career, Mickey enjoyed the opportunity to play for his hometown university team, which won a Canada West title and a national bronze medal in the 2012-13 season.
"It couldn’t have been any better," Mickey said. "Playing with some of those guys on the team like Sebastien (Steigmeier) and Sam (Tuivai), really talented people. I learned a lot and I grew a lot as a volleyball player and just as a person."
Bobcats head coach Grant Wilson admitted that Mickey would have been in a battle for playing time with Brandon next season. He understands Mickey’s decision to pursue engineering and wishes him well at Guelph.
"Obviously it’s sad to lose local talent, but as I told Conan, I think it’s a great opportunity for him," Wilson said. "It’s just an unfortunate time for him here where he has to battle pretty hard to try to get on to that playing roster and the reality of it is he’s going to go out there and get the education he needs first and foremost, which we can’t offer him, and he’s going to get the opportunity to play. I know Cal (Wigston, Guelph’s head coach) will do a good job out there with that team and Conan will fit in with them and I think it’s a real good opportunity for him."
The Gryphons struggled last season in the Ontario University Athletics conference, posting a 5-15 record, which put them in a tie for ninth place in the 11-team conference. The team, however, was incredibly young with two players in their fourth year of eligibility and nine of their 14 players in either their first or second years of eligibility.
Mickey thinks he will bring some experience to the Gryphons and hopes to join the squad’s starting lineup in the fall.
"They’re trying to develop their team; they’re in a rebuilding stage," he said. "... I just want to go in and take what I’ve learned from here, especially in Canada West and all the quality here, and bring it and see what I can do in Ontario."