Spotlight - Steven Marshall

LANGLEY, British Columbia - When Steven Marshall returned to the Trinity Western court this fall, there’s no doubt the rest of Canada took notice.

Not only were the Spartans entering this season having returned six of seven starters from their CIS national championship winning team but with Marshall, they were adding a 2010 Canada West First Team All-Star and a CIS National Tournament All-Star.

So yes, teams had, or still have, a right to be a little wary of what the Spartans can put on the floor.

And despite missing a season of indoor volleyball after he decided to spend a year pursuing his beach volleyball aspirations, he hasn’t missed a beat.

Through 10 games Marshall sixth in Canada West in points with 4.18 per set, eighth in kills with 3.54 per set and 16th in hitting percentage at .282.

And the craziest part of it all is that when it comes down to it, while he’s certainly an exceptional player, on the Spartans he’s just another part of the machine.

And not to pile on but add to all this to the fact that Marshall is now training smarter and with a brighter perspective than he ever has and you have the makings of something rather intimidating when the Langley Events Centre lights come on.

“When a kid who is that talented and with that many athletic tools just now learning how to train on a daily basis, it’s very scary for the rest of the country,” Josephson said.

If you thought he was good two years ago, prepare yourself for “Steven Marshall 2.0: A Changed Player but More Importantly a Changed Man.”

Two years ago, Marshall and the Spartans lost to Calgary in the 2010 CIS national championship gold medal game and were forced to settle for the bitter pill that was a silver medal.

That was Marshall’s last game at the university level.

Following that match, Marshall turned his focus to beach volleyball. He wasn’t enjoying school and the dream of playing professionally on the sand was much more enticing.

But after a summer of bouncing from tournament to tournament, sometimes successful and sometimes not, Marshall’s perspective on both volleyball and life changed.

“After I left to play beach I kind of realized that volleyball is not really all I’m going to do with my life,” Marshall said. “I realized volleyball isn’t everything and started to want to use it as a platform in order to serve and now I put my faith above the sport.

“When I left [my faith] wasn’t strong at all and was kind of non-existent. Interestingly enough, the year I left the Christian school I found more faith. I was at school a lot last year still, even though I technically wasn’t on the team, and my faith grew a lot last year and it’s still been growing a lot.”

Following the summer of 2010, Marshall started to turn his life in a different direction and realized the value of school and earning a degree.

So he started a hectic road back to regaining his academic eligibility.

He stayed in volleyball shape last year by practicing with the Spartans for most of the season and then once the summer of 2011 hit, it was crunch time for Marshall and his academics. With a renewed goal to get back to Trinity Western, he jumped through all the hoops just in time for the fall semester.

And now, in so many ways, Marshall has changed.

Off the court….

“He’s a different man than he was a couple of years ago,” Josephson said. “He’s recommitted his life to Christ. He’s taken it very seriously. He’s becoming one of the leaders on the team and it’s really inspiring for me and the rest of the guys to watch him mature.”

And on the court…

“He changed his training,” Josephson said. “He’s so much better at letting mistakes go. Like all great performers, he’s really hard on himself and maybe to the most degree of anyone on our team. He’s allowing himself to train through the struggles and improve his technique and I think it’s making him mentally tougher.”

Since returning, while Marshall’s offensive numbers are impressive, it’s been more his defensive presence that has impressed his coach.

“The value that Steven offers is in the backcourt,” Josephson said. “He’s arguably the best passer on our team, with him and Jarrod [Offereins] going back and forth week to week. He’s the best defender I have ever coached and that includes my time with the national team.”

“He can do some crazy things above the net which is really fun to watch but his value for us is really in the back court.”

Another big part of the reason for his success this year is his work as a beach volleyball coach with Sideout Beach.

He’s been coaching 13 to 17 year old girls and, while he’s been guiding one of the best up and coming girls teams in the country in the 14-year-old twin sister tandem of Megan and Nicole McNamara – be sure to look them up – he’s also learned a ton about himself.

“There were a couple practices this summer when they were kind of goofing around and I had to be on them to stay focused,” Marshall said. “Afterwards I was like ‘I feel like I’ve had that conversation with my coaches.’ When I get in that situation in practice it helps me focus.

“I also feel I’ve learned to change things to make myself better rather than just trying to do the wrong things better.”

That change in direction in practice has also helped alter his direction in life.

Next summer, Marshall, instead of playing beach himself, will dedicate even more time to his coaching and intentionally focus on bettering himself on the indoor court.

That’s where his concentration is now.

After the 2012-13 CIS season, he hopes to play with the national team and go to the national training centre for a year before trying to turn pro.

But before all that, he has this year to worry about. Unlike all but one of his teammates, that being first-year Tyler Koslowsky, he’s still looking for his first national championship.

“I definitely still have a chip on my shoulder because the last time I played I got silver. That’s been one of the biggest things for me to push and focus every day and every practice. I still have something to prove. I’m one of the only guys who doesn’t have a ring. It’s still bitter but I have to earn it this year.”

Last Updated: 2011-12-12
Author: Mark Janzen