Nate Speijer’s five-year career with the UBC-O Heat men’s volleyball team is highlighted by friendships.
“What I take away from everything as far as the team is just the friendships and the relationships I have gained through volleyball,” said Speijer, a Pen High grad, who completed his university volleyball career with a loss to the Regina Cougars in four sets last weekend. “It’s more about the people you meet than what you do.”
Against the Cougars, Speijer had four kills in the first sixteen Heat points that would give him the Canada West kill lead, but the Heat couldn’t solve the Cougars (25-16, 28-26, 20-25, 25-21). Speijer finished with 18 kills and surpassed Thompson Rivers University’s Brad Gunter for most kills in Canada West play this season with 371.
While Speijer cherishes those friendships, his accomplishments on the court are also impressive.
He joined the Heat in 2008 and during his three-year stint at the collegiate level, he led the Heat to B.C. Colleges’ Athletic Association Provincial Bronze, Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association National Championship Bronze, BCCAA Provincial Gold, and CCAA National Championship Silver.
In 2009/2010, Speijer was named BCCAA player of the year, in addition to being named CCAA all-Canadian and winning the UBC Okanagan Heat male athlete of the year. He said the championship in 2011 is important to him beyond the court because his friend and teammate Jordan Young died in a car accident shortly after celebrating their provincial championship. Speijer thinks about Young all the time.
In 2011/2012, the Heat made the move to Canadian Interuniversity Sport, and Speijer continued his dominating play. He finished the season fifth in the CIS in kills and 11th in service aces. He was named to the Canada West all-star team (second) and UBC Okanagan Heat male athlete of the year for the second time.
Just before the start of what should have been his final season in 2012, Speijer was forced to undergo an emergency appendectomy less than a day before the first game of the season, and he was forced to red-shirt for the remainder. He returned in 2013 and captured the Canada West kill crown with 371 total kills in the 2013-2014 season — the fourth best kill total in the history of the conference. He would connect on 30 or more kills in nine of the 10 weekends he played this season, tallying 29 kills in the only weekend series in which he didn’t reach 30.
One thing Speijer said he won’t miss is being sore the next morning from games.
“Shoulder is a little sore and after looking at my stats, I see why,” joked Speijer, 23.
When asked about his career, he recalls his first game, which was a landmark for him.
“I’m just trying to take it all in, it’s surreal to be honest,” said Speijer in a team statement following the game. “I can still remember stepping on this court for the first time and lacing up the shoes.”
Speijer, who expects to graduate with a degree in earth and environmental sciences, is decompressing during a reading break.
With his Heat career over, he graduates as the Heat’s all-time leader in kills (1250), service aces (125), points-per-set (4.74), and total points (1483.0).
Speijer also sits second all-time with a kills-per-set average of 3.99, in total digs with 434, and in total blocks with 137. His 31 kills on Nov. 22, 2013 versus Winnipeg ranks first all-time in school history, and tied for seventh in Canada West history. He averaged a career points-per-set of 5.58, which is third best all-time in Canada West, while his kills-per-set average of 4.67 is sixth best all-time and his 384.5 total points this season rests as eighth best all-time.
Speijer has often been asked what’s next for him. His focus, he said, is on completing his studies to become a geologist, but his volleyball career may continue as he has options to play professionally in Sweden, where a friend captains a team, and in Holland, where an agent contacted him stating a team is interested. Playing professionally is something he never thought about before.
“It’s a little bit mind blowing for me,” said Speijer. “When I graduated high school, I thought university was the big deal.
“To be honest, I wish I wasn’t done,” he said.