Barton grad leading Mountaineers men’s volleyball team
Mohamed Suliaman would like to finish his tenure as a member of the men’s volleyball team at Mohawk College with an OCAA championship in the spring.
“To win gold would be like a dream pretty much,” said Suliaman, who already has three bronze medals with the Mountaineers.
The 23-year-old, five-foot eleven Barton Secondary School graduate is having his best-ever season at Mohawk playing the right-side position.
With an arms-raised jump that can eclipse 11 feet, he has been spiking the ball across the net regularly and has become the team’s go-to player this season.
Suliaman leads the Mohawk men with 103 kills and 119 points.
That puts him among the top players in the community college athletic association’s West Division.
It’s also a vast improvement for Suliaman who struggled over his first three seasons with the team.
That past performance left him spending a lot of time on the bench compared to playing almost the entire match these days.
“I’m just putting everything on the floor,” said Suliaman, who is simply known as Mo to his teammates and coaches. “I’m not really afraid to hold anything back.”
The east Mountain resident credits a combination of maturity and his Islamic faith for his improvement on and off the volleyball court.
“Religion kind of came into play around my third year,” said Suliaman, who is a regular attendee at the Hamilton Mountain Mosque. “It helped me stay focused with things I needed to do in class and on the volleyball court.”
Mountaineers head coach Matt Schnarr said Suliaman has clearly become the leader of the team.
“We had a long chat in the summertime,” Schnarr said. “I said we needed him to be there as we’re a young team and this is his fifth and last year.”
Schnarr noted this year’s team features six veterans and 10 new players and he is relying on the veterans to be competitive.
“I needed a scorer and Mo stepped up to the challenge,” Schnarr said. “He’s leading our team offensively and actually, emotionally as well. He’s really matured from his five years and this year he’s stepped up as our game-play leader and in our locker room he’s definitely our leader as well.”
At the Christmas-holiday break, the 9-5 Mountaineers were in fourth place in the 10 team West Division but still within easy striking distance of third and second place.
Schnarr said a good second half run would put the team among the top three in the division and in a good position to go far in the OCAA championship tournament in March.
He said there is pretty much parity across the league this season.
“Teams are beating teams on any given night,” he said.
Suliaman noted many of the loses this season came on tie-breakers and that the Mountaineers are capable of beating any teams in their division.
“We’re definitely one of the top teams,” he said. “As long as we perform, we can beat anybody.”
Suliaman said the players have talked about picking their game up and going on a winning run in January and February.
“I feel we’re getting our heads straight now,” he said.
After a year of general arts and science and a year of pre-technology, Suliaman moved to the architectural technology three years ago and will graduate in the spring.
He has been working as a co-op student with the EllisDon construction corporation where he is one of the project coordinators overseeing the construction of housing in Toronto for athletes at the 2015 Pan Am Games.
Meanwhile, Schnarr praised Suliaman’s work ethic.
“If I can get (more) players like Mo, I’d like to find them and tell them to come to my team because he’s an outstanding young man,” he said.
The Mountaineers resumed practicing last week.
Their first game of the New Year is Jan. 11 when they host Canadore College at 8 p.m.