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Vigrass returns as men’s volleyball head coach

CALGARY – University of Calgary alumnus and two-time Olympian Graham Vigrass has been appointed head coach of the Dinos men’s volleyball program, Director of Athletics Ben Matchett announced Monday.

Vigrass, the sixth head coach in the program’s 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. 

“Graham is one of the best players to ever wear the colours, and we’re excited to welcome him back to campus to lead the Dinos men’s volleyball program into its next era,” said Matchett. “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 very deep.”

A native of 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 moved back to the middle and continued to earn accolades. In 2011, the Dinos won their ninth Canada West Championship with Vigrass leading the way again. He broke the program record in blocks and was named the U SPORTS Player of the Year. The season was capped off with Vigrass being recognized as the Canada West Male Athlete of the Year across all sports.

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

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

A mainstay with Volleyball Canada’s youth and junior programs before and during his time at UCalgary, Vigrass made the full-time jump to the Canadian senior men’s national team in 2012-13. During his nine-year international career, Vigrass represented Canada at countless Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (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 next year, Vigrass made his Olympic debut at Rio 2016, where Canada placed fifth. He also competed at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games before retiring from the national team in 2022.

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

When he was not donning the maple leaf over the past decade, Vigrass was playing 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 wrapped up his playing career with a championship in Spain.

In his new role, Vigrass will be supported by an experienced staff, with the return of Calvin Aubin as lead assistant coach and Dr. Kerry MacDonald as a mentor coach.

“We are very pleased that Calvin and Kerry have agreed to lend their expertise through this transition, coming alongside Graham as he begins his coaching journey,” stated Matchett. “Our program is well-positioned in the best volleyball city in Canada, and we’re excited for what’s to come.”

A familiar face on the Dinos bench, Aubin 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 over 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.

MacDonald is a Double Dino, with a Bachelor of Kinesiology (2006) and PhD in Kinesiology (2016) from UCalgary. He was a member of the coaching staff with Aubin in 2010 and went on to serve as head coach of the UBC Thunderbirds, leading them to a national title in 2018. MacDonald is currently the Beach High-Performance Manager with Volleyball Canada, preparing athletes for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

“It is awesome it has come full circle as Calvin and Kerry coached me in club and on the Dinos,” Vigrass said. “They have an amazing wealth of knowledge and I am excited to learn a lot from them both.”

Vigrass, who holds a Bachelor of Science (2012) from UCalgary, will arrive back in Calgary later this month.



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