Ryan Sclater, right (Jason Payne, PNG)

By Howard Tsumura - Vancouver Province - LINK to Story

PORT COQUITLAM — In early December, during a club volleyball tryout session held at Langley’s Trinity Western University, an errant ball rolled in the direction of Ryan Sclater.

“He just picked it up and 360 dunked it,” marvelled TWU’s head men’s volleyball coach Ben Josephson. “I just said to myself ‘Wow, that is one heck of an athlete.’

“But I had no idea he was that kind of a basketball player,” continued Josephson.

That, in a nutshell, is the essence of the senior 6-foot-7 multi-sport standout from Port Coquitlam’s Terry Fox Secondary.

If you see him on the volleyball court, you assume, based on his digging and attacking skills, that he is playing his No. 1 sport.

Yet if you happen to be passing through Port Coquitlam today through Saturday, when Terry Fox’s Ravens play host to the annual Legal Beagle senior boys basketball invitational, you’d assume the long-armed, high-rising Sclater did nothing but rebound, take jumpers and run the fast break.

In fact, after Sclater dropped 40 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in one game at the pre-Christmas, 32-team San Fernando Valley Invitational basketball tournament in Granada Hills, Cal., opposition coaches were stunned to learn that basketball was not his clear-cut No. 1 sport.

“He is by far, the quickest 6-7 guy in the province,” says Ravens’ head basketball coach Steve Hanson, whose star player was picked to the 16-man tourney all-star team along with others ticketed for NCAA Div. 1 futures at UCLA, Louisville and Kentucky. “He gets off the floor so well, he’s got the inside-outside game, and he can really shoot it well.”

What it all added up to for Sclater, who amazingly attends a school without a senior boys volleyball team, was one tough choice.

“I just eventually realized that I felt like I had more fun (playing volleyball),” admits Sclater, who has played club volleyball and next season will join a Trinity Western team that not only won the 2010-11 CIS national title but is currently undefeated and ranked No. 1 in Canada. “I am happy with my choice, but it’s going to be pretty weird not playing basketball next season.”

Still, what is most astounding about the multi-dimensional Sclater is the level of excellence he has maintained in all of his passions, despite his decision to finally specialize in one sport.

In the off-season, Sclater somehow found time to add more perimetre-based weapons to his basketball skill set, all the while practising a couple of times a week with a high-calibre volleyball training group at the Langley Events Centre. He is currently set to begin his club volleyball season which overlaps the most important part of his basketball season for almost three whole months.

In addition, Sclater also suited up in the midfield for a Terry Fox team which qualified for the B.C. Triple A soccer championship tournament.

It’s a load heavy enough to make you wonder if the guy ever gets a chance to crack the text books at night. Josephson calms those concerns.

“Ryan was admitted to Trinity with a 4.3 GPA, and that is as high as you can be,” he chuckled. “That is a perfect A-plus average. We’re talking about a pretty special kid here. He’s a national-level volleyball player, but everything he approaches, he does with excellence in mind. He is the kind of kid you dream about coming into your program.”

And while Sclater himself takes no offence to the question, it bears asking if he has curtailed at least a little bit of his basketball prep time to sneak in some extra practice reps on the volleyball court as he prepares to join the most dominant men’s program in the country this coming fall.

“There was really never a time where I thought that I was going to let up in basketball,” he explains, adding that he has politely rebuffed the pull of volleyball friends over the years who have asked him to change schools so that he could have the opportunity to play that sport at the high school level. “I am just too loyal to my school, and the guys I play with on the (basketball) team are awesome. It’s going to be a sweet year.”

But not one without some ups and downs.

As part of a 5-0 start to its season, the Ravens topped No. 1 Kelowna and No. 2 Vancouver College in the same week, to vault from No. 8 to No. 1.

However, as they open play at the Beagle tonight (6:45 p.m.) against North Vancouver’s Windsor Dukes, they are ranked No. 9 and riding a 0-3 slide against B.C. competition that includes a 65-57 loss over the holiday break to current No. 6 Walnut Grove.

Sclater is not panicking. In fact, as a three-year senior varsity player, he is well aware that the Ravens have picked up their game each season at the Legal Beagle.

“Every year, the focus is not on getting a couple of wins in November,” he explains. “It’s on the end of the season. The plan is to come together at the B.C.’s and be playing our best at that time. We put some good things together down in California, and the Beagle is usually where it all comes together for us.”

Scalter will no doubt miss the annual road to March Madness, the most exciting part of any basketball player’s championship journey.

Yet he will likely get the chance to be a part of a similar path at TWU, which has played in the last two CIS national volleyball finals.

And because Sclater has dedicated himself so thoroughly to three sports, Josephson is confident that there are some new altitudes to achieve once he becomes a true one-sport man.

“I would say that raw is the right word,” the coach says. “His skills are all quite pure. His athleticism is unmatched. His ceiling? I don’t think we quite understand how high is potential is right now.”

Last Updated: 2012-03-07
Author: Mark Janzen