Brandley Gunter: Canada’s Next Generation


LAUSANNE, Switzerland, March 11, 2019 – In the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League he received a chance and he grabbed it. This was his first participation in a major world-level competition. Bradley Gunter was part of Canada’s team for the VNL and proved key to many of the squad’s victories.


“I had some good games and some bad games,” Gunter humbly told fivb.com. “There are definitely aspects that I need to work on. There are always things to improve. But it was better than the year before, so I am happy with that.”


24 years old at the time, he was one of the youngest players on the team, but certainly created an impact. He sees himself as part of Canada’s next generation. “I feel that I am learning and developing, getting better every year, and that’s important. Hopefully I can continue growing in the future.”


Canada finished seventh in the VNL and Gunter was not happy about it. “Of course, it’s disappointing when you know you are only one spot from making the finals,” he explained. “We made some mistakes. The key was that Serbia game. We knew that we needed to win to get in, but we lost and it was pretty disappointing.”


The 1.98m-tall opposite did not make the squad for the World Championship later in 2018, but this actually only motivated him to continue growing. “With Sharone Vernon-Evans coming back and Ryan Joseph Sclater being healthy and playing well, I became the third in my position and did not get to travel,” said Gunter. “Of course, that motivates me. I know I have to fight against these guys. They are my teammates, but also my competition for the starting positions. The VNL is the first tournament of the season and a good chance for the young guys to play after the club season and before Olympic qualifications. I think I will be somewhere in the program, but who will play is 100% the coach’s decision. Hopefully, our team will do well. I think it’s possible to make the final six this year. It’s a good tournament, but it’s a grind – lots of games right away and lots of travel, but in the end it’s worth it, especially when you are battling to get into the finals.”


Canada will start their 2019 VNL campaign in Argentina with games against Bulgaria, Portugal and the hosts. In the competition’s second weekend, the North Americans will play at home against Australia, Germany and Serbia. “It’s always great to play in your home country. Last year we also got to play in front of our home crowd and it was a cool atmosphere,” Gunter pointed out. “It feels comfortable – we are in a city we are familiar with, we get to see our families… But you also have to battle these distractions to stay focused on playing volleyball.”


Gunter’s focus is currently on his performance with Hebar Pazardzhik, the club leading the standings in the Bulgarian league on a 17-3 win-loss record. Hebar won the national cup for the first time in history, while Gunter was the big hero of the dramatic final match against incumbents Neftohimik 2010 Burgas. He was the game’s overall top scorer, contributing eight points in the crucial tie-breaker alone.


“It was amazing!” the 25-year-old athlete exclaimed. “I’m so happy we could play like that in front of the home crowd and give them the best they could ask for – five sets, really intense, back-and-forth volleyball… I had lots of confidence playing and it was good for my game.”


This was his second trophy in Europe, after winning the Polish cup with Trefl Gdansk last year. “It feels more important to me, because, unlike last season, I was one of the main players. So winning the Bulgarian cup holds a little bit more special place,” Gunter confessed. “Bulgaria has been great to me. This club is really professional and I’m in a good performing team. They are treating me well and I am developing lots of things here. I’m very excited about the upcoming playoffs, to see if we can end up as champions.”


Gunter likes to spend his holiday time at home, in Canada. “I like relaxing in my parents’ house in the country. We have a lake house, so I go swimming in the lake, boating and stuff like that. This summer I hope to go on some beach vacation with my girlfriend, whom I met in Poland last season.”


He is also a little bit of a coffee maniac and calls it one of his hobbies. “I am pretty interested in the third-wave coffee scene. I order lots of single-origin coffees from roasters all over the world and I enjoy brewing my coffee every morning with my Chemex pour-over coffeemaker. Every city I go to, the first thing I am looking for is a nice coffee shop I can visit.”


Bradley Gunter was also asked to name the six players he would like on his Dream Team, but he did not even give it a thought. “I would say - my Canadian team. They are all great guys and I love playing with them!”