After a tough end to their last season, the McMaster Marauder’s men’s volleyball team made key acquisitions to offset the loss of a few veteran players. Most notably, they signed Wojtek Kraj, a six foot ten middle hitter. Kraj played for Jastrzębski Węgiel, a prestigious club in Poland which is a part of the top Polish volleyball league, PlusLiga.
Coming from Poland, Kraj’s familiarity with the Hamilton and McMaster community are somewhat limited. With that being said, so far he is enjoying the city and campus.
“My first impressions were that Hamilton is a really pretty city. Wherever you go, you can see something that draws your attention; on the mountain, there are biking and walking trails, the view from the lower part of Hamilton, in the city centre the huge modern buildings,” said Kraj. “Also, I really like the campus of McMaster, it’s really dense which makes it possible to walk from one end to the other.”
Kraj will likely be an incredible team player and will fit right in on the Marauders. Not only is he incredibly humble and encouraging of his teammates but he approaches volleyball with the hard work and determination required to be the best athlete he can be.
“I don’t think I will bring any unique skills to the team, because I’m sure that everyone can spike, block and serve well on our team of McMaster volleyball. Our team is really good, so I don’t feel like I’m bringing anything special apart from my height, being the tallest on the team. I hope to develop skills that will make me unique but I don’t feel like I have any, because our team is really good as I said,” stated Kraj
Kraj downplays his capabilities, as he posted 11 total kills total on his team in Jastrzębski Węgiel ’s two games against McMaster in the winter.
While he faces a full year on a very competitive team, life for Kraj will encompass more than just volleyball. Come first semester he plans to focus a lot on his studies. One of the main reasons he chose to attend McMaster was because it is so highly ranked internationally. Kraj knows that he can a great education here while also playing volleyball at a high level.
“The key thing was that McMaster is really good in terms of education, it’s ranked really high, so that’s a big bonus for me. I can play for the team, develop my skills in volleyball while also getting a great education. The drawback was the price of studying, which is really expensive, but I guess that you have to pay for the quality of your studies.”
Kraj set his ambitions high for the season and aims to be a part of the starting lineup, but he also understands that no matter what happens, he’s here to work hard and improve his game. He also revealed that the presence of senior players on the team makes him unsure of how many minutes on the team he will play. However, he will strive to be the best player he can be.
“Well, my biggest goal is to have a good debut, to show everyone that I haven’t come here for nothing, and that I can give a lot to our volleyball team. Of course, it requires a lot of hard work, which I’ll be putting in throughout the season. I’d also like to be in the starting six but I won’t be disappointed if I don’t make it because we have a lot of good, older players.”
Kraj is above all else a team player dedicated to improving his game as well as overall being a great student athlete. He will look to make an immediate impact given his height, standing tall at six foot ten, as well as his capabilities on the court.