Last season, Brad Gunter was playing professional volleyball in a high-end league in Poland. This year, the Comox Valley native will be playing in a 12-team league in Bulgaria.
“The level is going to go down a bit,” Gunter, 24, said during a recent visit to the Valley. “I was the second player in my position (right side hitter) in Poland. I’m dropping down a couple steps in league quality, so I’ll be the first player and get to play lots, and hopefully do well.”
In Poland, he had played for the Trefl Gdansk Lions in the Plusliga, one of the top volleyball leagues in the world.
“We came third, and we won the Polish Cup, which was about halfway through the season. It was really good. Super high-end league.”
Gunter also plays with Canada’s senior A team, which finished eighth at the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League this summer in France. Russia won the competition.
“That was a pretty awesome experience, too. We travelled all over. We we fairly successful. Didn’t quite make top six, which was what we were going for, but overall it was a good experience. Got to play against a lot of good players.”
A graduate of Vanier Secondary, the 6’6” Gunter was a star player at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. He was named CIS Player of the Year in 2014, and graduated as Canada West’s all-time points leader.
His new home is in Pazardzhik, Bulgaria, about an hour from the capital city of Sofia. The season runs from the end of October to the end of April.
“It’s a full-time job,” Gunter said of professional volleyball. “I might go to the gym for a few hours a day, but it takes the whole day. You eat healthy, you gotta’ do mental checks, make sure you’re ready for the next competition. You’re always thinking about it. You don’t just go home and shut off. Volleyball is your life.
“It’s a real worthwhile profession,” he added. “It’s a rewarding lifestyle. If you can get there, it’s worth it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else right now.”