Within the sphere that is post-secondary sports, there are, from time to time, those athletes who take the jump from the high-school ranks, to college or university, completely for granted.
Almost every OCAA coach has had to deal, at some time or another, with the freshman whose sense of entitlement knows no limits, who simply cannot wrap their mind around the fact that playing time must be earned.
It is within this context that one can understand why the arrival of Harry Singh to the Cambrian Golden Shield would provide such a breath of fresh air. A first-year international student who hails from India, Singh overflows with appreciation as he prepares for the second half of his rookie season with the men’s volleyball team.
“I really feel proud to be part of Cambrian College, and more than that, I feel proud to be part of the Golden Shield team,” said Singh. “The athletic department has been so supportive … every single person and athlete. Whenever I enter the athletic center, I feel at home, like the people around me are family.”
One cannot necessarily grasp the depth of these feelings that Singh harbours without a glimpse into his past, a past that is in stark contrast to virtually every teammate with whom he meets on the court.
“I started playing in grade eight, but I was not very much into the game at that point in time,” recalled Singh, one of three children in the family. “That came in grade nine, when I walked three to four kilometers daily to the ground where we practiced.”
Through high school and into college in India, Singh continued to play, even if the game differed somewhat from what he has quickly grown accustomed to in Canada. “Depending upon the rotation back in India, I used to play the defensive mode that is the libero here,” he said.
“At some point in time, when we had a hard time with our setters, I would go and set the ball. I have never been into the attacking mode.” Still, as he became the first in his immediate family to pursue his education in Canada, the thought of continuing with the sport was as foreign to him as the frigidly cold temperature he would experience a few months later.
“When I came here, I never thought of playing volleyball for the Cambrian Golden Shield men’s team,” he stated. “But I went out for tryouts, and it took me three to four days to get back into volleyball once again. It was one of the best moments of my life when he (coach Tom Sutton) told me that I was in.”
Singh makes it quite clear exactly how much he has enjoyed the athletic component of his time in Sudbury. But the truth of the matter is, that same feeling permeates every facet of his life at Cambrian. “The work environment here is really positive,” he noted.
“It keeps you motivated to work hard and do well. The people here are really helpful; they are really supportive. People here don’t wait for you to ask for help, they just come up to help.”
Chat with those who have come to know Harry Singh, if only quite casually, and they will suggest his sincerity and open personality make it easy to want to help him. He carries an altogether different, and quite refreshing perspective.
“When I left my country, I had one thing in my mind, that I’m not just an international student, but also an ambassador for my country,” he said. “I believe that sports are one area, separate from the world of diplomacy, which really helps in bringing together our two nations, or many nations together.”
Hard not to appreciate that point of view.