Jackson Maris and Keith West both played in the inaugural season of the Calgary Premier League in 2018. Jackson was the 1st pick for his team, the JVC Timberjacks and Keith was 1st pick for his team, the WM Greenbacks. These two talented athletes are currently on contracts in Europe – Jackson with Hammelburg in Germany and Keith with Chaumont in France.
We asked the players a couple of questions to get to know them a little better!
How did you get into volleyball? Did you play any other sports growing up?
Jackson: I got into volleyball from a young age. I was introduced to the sport by my father as he was a volleyball player and he got myself and my brothers into the sport. As for other sports, I played all the other sports most kids play – soccer, baseball and basketball.
Keith: My dad also played volleyball and he got my two older brothers playing when they were young. Having watched them play, I got into the sport as well at a pretty young age and I was hooked from day 1. I played a few different sports, but volleyball was the only sport I played at a competitive level.
Did you want to pursue professional volleyball or was it something that just happened and you took the opportunity when it arose?
Jackson: I’ve wanted to play professionally since my club days! Playing a sport as a job was something I was always interested in and wanted to try.
Keith: It was something that only came to mind around my 3rd year of University. Initially, I wasn’t sold on the idea of leaving Canada and being away from family and friends for such an extended period of time. After I finished my last year of USports eligibility, I felt that I wanted to continue playing. Despite the drawbacks [of leaving Canada], I decided I wanted to pursue a professional contract in Europe.
Jackson – This is your 4th contract, what has your life been like moving around Europe? You’ve moved from Canada to Sweden to Germany! Are there any significant highlights/challenges in the last 4 years?
Moving to a new country definitely has its challenges because you miss so much back home. Every Christmas, Thanksgiving, and birthday celebrations you have to be included over FaceTime, but you find ways to make where you feel like home. My fiancé has been with me for most of my time in Europe which has made the biggest difference. Also, the teammates and friends I’ve made can make it such an enjoyable experience.
Keith – This is your 1st contract, how are you finding it so far? What have been some of the highlights/challenges in adjusting to life as a professional athlete right after university?
I ended up in a very fortunate situation and everyday I’m reminded of that. Chaumont is currently tied for 1st in our pool for Champions League, as well as in the final four for the French Cup. In the summer, I asked my agent to find me a team where I could experience the highest level of volleyball, and I’m lucky to be in that exact situation!
How does competing overseas compare with competing in the Calgary Premier League? Did the league help prepare you?
Jackson: The biggest difference from the Calgary Premier League is the time commitment. Having to train at least once a day and on top of that you have team workouts - compared to one or two practices a week in the Premier League - is what makes it a full-time job.
Keith: The popularity of volleyball in Europe is a big change from playing Canada. With established leagues in almost every country, attending volleyball games is something that a lot of people do for entertainment. I think the Calgary Premier League was able to accomplish this last summer, maybe on a smaller sale, but it was amazing to be a part of. I want to see Volleyball become a part of the mainstream conversation when it comes to sporting events in Calgary.