Vigrass returns as Dinos men’s volleyball head coach

Article content

University of Calgary alumnus and two-time Olympian Graham Vigrass has been named head coach of the Dinos men’s volleyball program, athletics director Ben Matchett announced Monday.

Vigrass, the sixth head coach in program history, returns to the campus where he won a national championship in 2010 and launched an extensive professional career in Europe and a nine-year stint with the Canadian national team.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Article content

“Graham is one of the greatest players to ever wear the colors and we are excited to welcome him back to campus to lead the Dinos men’s volleyball program into its next era,” Matchett said. “His experience at the highest levels of the sport around the world will bring a unique perspective and, of course, his ties to the volleyball community run deep.”

Originally from Calgary, Vigrass was recruited out of Western Canada High School and played five years with the Scarlet & Gold.

After two strong seasons as a middle blocker where he was among the team leaders in kills, blocks and hitting percentage, Vigrass transitioned to the right side. At the 2010 U SPORTS Men’s Volleyball Championship, he averaged 21 kills per match and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player as the Dinos captured their fourth national title.

A year later, Vigrass returned to the medium and continued to earn accolades. In 2011, the Dinos won their ninth Western Canada championship with Vigrass again leading the way. He broke the program record for blocks and was named U SPORTS Player of the Year. The season culminated in Vigrass being recognized as the Western Canada Male Athlete of the Year in all sports.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

In his final season with the Dinos, Vigrass, a two-time U SPORTS All-Canadian, led the team to its third consecutive national championship appearance and finished his collegiate career second in program history with 844 kills.

“I am very excited for this opportunity,” Vigrass said. “Calgary has an amazing volleyball community and I’m excited to be a part of it and build something special.”

A mainstay of Volleyball Canada’s youth and youth programs before and during his time at UCalgary, Vigrass made the jump full-time to the Canadian senior men’s national team in 2012-13. During his nine-year international career, Vigrass represented Canada in countless International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) events, including the Nations League, World Championships, World League and a World Cup. At the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, he helped Canada to a bronze medal. The following year, Vigrass made his Olympic debut at Rio 2016, where Canada placed fifth. He also competed in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics before retiring from the national team in 2022.

Advertisement 4

Article content

Vigrass was named Best Middle Blocker in the 2017 World League and Best Blocker in the 2019 Volleyball Nations League.

When not donning the Maple Leaf over the last decade, Vigrass played in some of the top volleyball leagues in Europe. Highlighted by a pair of Bundesliga titles in Germany, Vigrass also made stops in France, Tunisia, Türkiye and Poland, and just concluded his playing career with a championship in Spain.

In his new role, Vigrass will be supported by an experienced staff, with Calvin Aubin returning as senior assistant coach and Dr Kerry MacDonald as mentor coach.

“We are very pleased that Calvin and Kerry have agreed to lend their expertise during this transition, accompanying Graham as he begins his coaching journey,” said Matchett. “Our program is well positioned in the best volleyball city in Canada and we are excited about what is to come.”

Aubin, a familiar face on the Dinos bench, is a member of the Alberta Colleges Athletics Conference Hall of Fame and the Mount Royal Cougars Wall of Fame. He led the Cougars to Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) national championships in 1991 and 1994, while compiling an 84-12 record during five seasons at the helm. Aubin was a member of the Dinos’ 2010 national championship coaching staff during his first stint at UCalgary and returned to the program in 2021.

Advertisement 5

Article content

MacDonald is a Double Dino, with a BSc in Kinesiology (2006) and a PhD in Kinesiology (2016) from UCalgary. He was a member of Aubin’s coaching staff in 2010 and later served as head coach of the UBC Thunderbirds, leading them to a national title in 2018. MacDonald is currently Volleyball Canada’s Beach High Performance Manager, preparing athletes for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

“It’s amazing that it came full circle with Calvin and Kerry coaching me at the club and at the Dinos,” Vigrass said. “They have an incredible wealth of knowledge and I am excited to learn a lot from both of them.”

Vigrass, who has a Bachelor of Science (2012) from UCalgary, will return to Calgary later this month.

Article content

Leave a Comment