Fraser Valley – The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball program introduced its class of incoming athletes for the 2019-20 season.
The Cascades’ crew of newcomers features a trio of freshmen in Caleb Kastelein, Josh Willems and Tanner Geringer, alongside a trio of transfers in Graham Walkey, Ryan Luck and Simon Frackiewicz.
They join the Cascades in a year of transition, as the team plays one final season in the PACWEST before transitioning to the Canada West conference in 2020. The team opens the 2019-20 campaign at home vs. crosstown rival Columbia Bible College on Friday, Oct. 11.
6’3” outside hitter, Langley B.C.
Langley Christian School
Kastelein had an outstanding senior season at Langley Christian, leading the Lightning to the bronze medal at the B.C. AA championships and earning first team all-star honours in the process. He was also named MVP at both the Fraser Valley and B.C. Christian Schools championships, and picked up all-star honours at the B.C. club provincials in the spring. Kastelein ranked No. 6 on VarsityLetters.ca’s Super 15 list of the top Grade 12 players in the province, as voted by B.C.’s university coaches.
“Caleb is a quality recruit coming in this year,” Cascades head coach Nathan Bennett said. “He’ll help our team in the transition from PACWEST to Canada West, and I’m looking forward to watching his development into the next phase of our program.”
“I chose UFV because it was best suited to fulfil my post-secondary goals in academics and sports,” said Kastelein, who is enrolled in General Studies.
5’11” setter, Prince George B.C.
College Heights Secondary / Columbia Bible College
Walkey launches his Cascades career against the team he spent the previous two seasons with – the CBC Bearcats. He had a sparkling run with the Bearcats, earning PACWEST all-rookie honours in 2017-18 and CCAA National Scholar awards both of his years on campus. He ranked ninth in PACWEST in aces last season with 41, and averaged 6.22 assists per set. He was a recipient of a CBC President’s Award in 2019, recognizing excellence in athletics, academics and leadership. Walkey previously starred at the high school level at Prince George’s College Heights Secondary, earning his school’s athlete of the year award and the North Central zone athlete of the year award in 2017.
“We’re pleased to have Graham transfer from CBC,” Bennett said. “As a setter, he’s going to be an important piece of our program, and he brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience.”
“I’m honoured to join the program here at UFV,” said Walkey, who is studying Arts. “I’m looking forward to spending the rest of my post-secondary career as a Cascade. Coach Bennett is developing a strong culture here and I can’t wait to play my part.”
6’1” setter, Kelowna B.C.
Okanagan Mission Secondary / UBC Okanagan
Luck has prior Canada West experience, having spent two seasons with the UBC Okanagan Heat. He redshirted in 2013-14, and suited up as a libero in 2014-15, seeing action in three games. He returns to post-secondary volleyball after a four-year hiatus, and will study kinesiology at UFV. Luck is shifting positions, backing up Walkey at the setter spot.
“He’s coming in with some experience in Canada West from UBCO,” Bennett said. “Even though he’s taken a few years off, he’s come in with a quality mentality with learning a new position.”
“I chose to come out of retirement to learn more about the game that I love,” Luck said. “Playing as a setter instead of a libero makes me a better player and hopefully someday a better coach.”
5’9” outside hitter, Abbotsford B.C.
Mennonite Educational Institute
Willems is a product of the perennial powerhouse MEI Eagles high school program. He celebrated a pair of provincial championships with the Eagles, winning a B.C. junior boys title in 2013 and a senior AA crown in 2015. He also contributed to a pair of B.C. bronze medal-winning squads – at the junior level in 2014, and at the senior level in 2016.
“Josh comes from a quality high school program and is able to help with our growing culture from that standpoint,” Bennett noted.
“I chose UFV because I wanted to help them as they build the program up and develop a stronger volleyball community in Abbotsford,” said Willems, who is enrolled in Arts.
6’0” middle, Mission B.C.
Geringer had an outstanding senior season with the Mission Roadrunners, earning team MVP honours in 2018-19.
“Tanner played for the Orangemen Volleyball Club and we’re excited to have local athletes in our program,” Bennett said. “We’re looking forward to his continued development.”
“I chose UFV because I grew up watching my friends graduate and play for their respective teams, and I had always wanted to join them on the Cascades’ roster,” said Geringer, a Business Admin student. “I hope for a great season with the boys, and I’m looking forward to working under Coach Bennett.”
5’9” libero, Surrey B.C.
D.W. Poppy Secondary
Frackiewicz joins Walkey among the ranks of athletes transferring from Columbia Bible College to UFV. He spent the 2015-16 campaign with the Bearcats.
“I had been focusing on my education, and thought it was appropriate to return to volleyball for my last year of undergrad,” said Frackiewicz, who is in the Business Admin program. “Being a part of the Cascades men’s volleyball program has been a great experience so far, pushing me in my studies as well as my development as an athlete.”
“Simon’s dedication to academics will be a trickle-down effect for our program,” Bennett said. “Even though he’s already played in the league, he’s very eager to learn and continue his growth.”