C/O Confédération Européenne de Volleyball

Matthew Passalent joins SK Zadruga AICH/DOB as his first professional team after his tenure at McMaster

Before stepping on to the court as a member of SK Zadruga AICH/DOB, Matthew Passalent began his volleyball journey in the various volleyball camps hosted by McMaster Athletics & Recreation. As such, he fostered good relationships with the coaches there, so joining the McMaster University men’s volleyball team was not unfamiliar territory for Passalent. He described his transition as very welcoming.

In his first year on the McMaster volleyball team, he followed the guidance of the senior members. He watched many of their games prior to enrolling at McMaster — he looked up to them and modelled his game after them. 

“It was awesome to have the opportunity to practice with [the McMaster athletes], watch them play up close and get a good grasp on their mentality,” said Passalent.

Passalent as a member of the McMaster Men’s Volleyball team. C/O Michael P. Hall

Passalent explained that he received more playing time and entered more of a leadership role as the years progressed. He recalled how during his fourth and fifth years, the rookies looked up to him in a similar way that he looked up to the upper-years during his rookie year.

“It was awesome to have the opportunity to practice with [the McMaster athletes], watch them play up close and get a good grasp on their mentality,” said Passalent.

Aside from playing as outside hitter for the team, his position varied from opposite to outside hitter. He did not receive much playing time during his rookie year; he played a few points at the end of matches. It was not until around his third-year Passalent started for the team.

“We have really good older guys, playing for Team Canada, the junior team, etc . . . It was really hard to crack a starting spot in your first or second year,” said Passalent.

“We have really good older guys, playing for Team Canada, the junior team, etc . . . It was really hard to crack a starting spot in your first or second year,” said Passalent.

Passalent recounts his biggest achievement during his tenure at McMaster was winning the Ontario University Athletics gold medal in his third-year. 

“It was a record of winning the OUA championship in six consecutive years. That was my third championship. It’s really cool to be a part of the team and a part of history,” said Passalent. 

With regards to personal awards, he has the most pride for receiving the OUA West Player of the Year during his fourth-year.

“When my coach told me, I was really shocked because I was injured for most of the year,” said Passalent.

In winter 2019, Passalent and the team participated in the 2019 Can Am Holiday Volleyball Showcase in which teams from the United States and Canada competed against one another. Passalent recollected how this was a major downside in his career, having won no games at the invitational tournament. However, after playing in this tournament, the team bounced back with a major win against Trinity Western University, then the top team in U Sports.

Playing overseas has been quite different on the court for Passalent. He stated how many players come from different parts of the world while learning different techniques.

“I just thought it would be how I was used to in Canada. But we were doing drills I never heard of. It was really fascinating. It’s definitely good to learn a lot,” said Passalent.

“I just thought it would be how I was used to in Canada. But we were doing drills I never heard of. It was really fascinating. It’s definitely good to learn a lot,” said Passalent.

In fall 2020, Passalent joined SK Zadruga AICH/DOB in Austria to play for his first professional team. 

Passalent as a member of SK Zadruga AICH/DOB. C/O GEPA pictures

“It was a completely different vibe. This town I was living in was very small. Everyone knew each other. You can walk to anywhere in town within 15 minutes. Being from such a small town, the team had hardcore, dedicated fans. It felt like a really great atmosphere at the few games I participated in,” said Passalent. 

Adapting to this new lifestyle was not as difficult as Passalent thought it would be.

“I found that I had to get into a strict schedule. I feel I had to keep eating and fueling myself, doing it at the right times. It’s a grind out there. If you don’t take care of your body, it will come back and punish you,” said Passalent.

As the team predominantly spoke English, Passalent did not run into many language barrier issues. 

“I found that I had to get into a strict schedule. I feel I had to keep eating and fueling myself, doing it at the right times. It’s a grind out there. If you don’t take care of your body, it will come back and punish you,” said Passalent.

A typical day for Passalent begins with waking up at 7:30 a.m., eating breakfast and then working out at 8 a.m. Afterwards, he would go grocery shopping to make a bigger breakfast and take a midday nap. Then, he would join the team for lunch followed by recreational activities, such as watching Netflix. Around 6:00 p.m., the team would practice until 8:00 p.m. Lastly, he would cook a large dinner and head to bed. 

Passalent spikes the ball past Dinamo MOSCOW player in their first-round pool match of the CEV 2021 Champions League. C/O Confédération Européenne de Volleyball

Before Passalent tore his rotator cuff this past October, he participated in four qualifying matches as part of the CEV Champions League for the 2020-2021 season.

“The pool we were in was tough. We were slated as underdogs. We had to play the third-ranked team and number one team in Russia,” said Passalent.

In his first game with the team, Passalent led the team in scoring as they captured a win. Despite this victory, the team lost the rest of their qualification matches. Passalent was only able to play in the first three until his shoulder injury occurred. He states that most likely he will need to get surgery, following a four-five month recovery time. 

Passalent sends the ball over Neftochimik BURGAS in their first-round pool match of the CEV 2021 Champions League. C/O Confédération Européenne de Volleyball

“Hopefully I see myself still playing volleyball but maybe in a higher-level league like in Italy, France, Germany or Turkey, as they also pay better money,” said Passalent.

While recovering from his injury, Passalent will actively seek out a new contract to head back onto the court, either with SK Zadruga AICH/DOB or a brand new team.

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