There won’t be much time for Sebastien Steigmeier to rest once the school year ends.
Shortly after he finishes his last exam at Brandon University, the right side for the Bobcats men’s volleyball team will be flying home to Switzerland to join his national team for the European Championship qualifiers. It will be his fourth stint with Switzerland’s elite men’s volleyball squad and the 6-foot-7, 220-pound Steigmeier is looking forward to the opportunity to travel and represent his country again.
"I think everybody has a bit of pride in wearing the national team’s jersey and trying to represent their own country in the sport they like wherever it is on the planet," he said. "It gives us a chance as athletes to travel a little bit. I’m so lucky, more than anybody. I’ve travelled a lot and I want to keep on doing it."
Steigmeier, who averaged 3.51 kills, 1.67 digs and 0.53 blocks per set this season with the Bobcats, will arrive in Switzerland on April 25 and have an afternoon to himself before going to Schaffhausen to join his Swiss teammates, who will have been practising for a couple weeks already.
They’ll have a pair of exhibition matches with Luxembourg before heading to Croatia for a week and then Hungary for the first round of qualifying from May 9-11.
Switzerland has been placed in a pool with Hungary, Norway and Bosnia and Herzegovina and needs to finish first in its pool, or be the best second-place team of the three pools, to advance to Round 2.
Like last summer with the Swiss team that competed at the World University Games, Steigmeier expects a heavy workload, especially with three potential starters missing for various reasons. That will add to the challenge in the qualifying process, but Steigmeier has faith in the replacements and loves facing adversity at the European Championship qualifiers.
"It always starts at our level," he said. "It’s not a bad level at all, we have talented players and are pretty good, but we’re not like European champions kind of team. But that’s what makes it exciting is we start with teams that are just like us and the farther we go the harder it’s going to get. That’s great to know that if you win that it’s going to keep getting harder and harder and that’s what I love. I want competition, so it’s pretty awesome."
Because of his exams, Steigmeier is going to miss the majority of his team’s training camp, but hopes his time with the Bobcats will have him in great shape and ready to play. It also means he won’t get much time to spend with former Bobcat player and assistant coach Luke Reynolds, who is helping with their training for a few weeks before the team goes to Croatia.
Steigmeier will have three days to reconnect with Reynolds — who coached Svedala into the Swedish women’s league final — including a day off in which he plans to take Reynolds on a tour of Geneva.
Once the European Championship qualifying ends, Steigmeier plans to work a bit and play beach volleyball. He feels a break will be nice before he returns to Brandon to try to lead the Bobcats back to nationals in his final year of CIS eligibility.
"I’m still going to be playing beach volleyball as I always do," he said. "I’m thinking a good break from volleyball after the qualifiers. Stick around volleyball in the sand and come back fresh."