KAMLOOPS, BC–What do you call the man who leads the CIS in steals, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, averages 15.4 points per game, and is taller than Shaquille O’Neal?
Well, the CIS calls him the Defensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row, but most people know him as Greg Stewart.
He is a dual-sport beast playing basketball and volleyball. Stewart is an upbeat individual, which coincides with his game.
Any player winning back-to-back CIS Defensive Player of the Year titles would be miraculous feat. However, it’s an almost impossible accomplishment once taking into consideration Stewart’s unique presence on the hardwood.
Born missing his left arm from the elbow down, Stewart has never considered his disability a hindrance to his athleticism or playing abilities.
In fact, when asked if he believed one arm made a difference, he simply replied by saying, “You accept what you have and work with it.”
Stewart’s positive vibes are quite contagious and refreshing, making it clear that he has more than accepted his disability and bypassed it, proving his dominance among the country’s CIS elite.
A Kamloops, British Columbia native, Greg’s preferred school was Thompson Rivers University which is also in his hometown. In essence, when he was recruited to the TRU WolfPack out of high school, it was an easy decision, being a natural fit.
The 7’2 centre has been deemed a major presence on the court by the WolfPack Head Coach, Scott Clark and with a unbearable size, it’s easy to see why Clark described his best defensive player as such.
Clark’s in his first year of coaching the WolfPack and when asked about Greg’s game he says, “The biggest thing is his defensive presence and other teams have to set up game plans for him because he is able to dominate and get rebounds.”
Throughout the season the WolfPack head coach believes that Greg played picked up his game notably after January and that work ethic had a lot to do with his performance.
“He improved on his fitness and play, and that was good not only for him but the whole team,” Clark says of his standout player.
Stewart was also pleased with his work ethic this season, “I was not accepting, always wanting to do better!”
Describing Greg in just one word proved to be hard for Clark. Some of the words he came up with were ‘miraculous’ and ‘inspirational’.
“He’s overcome some adversity in his life but it’s still hard to put just one word on it.”
But the head coach also says, “Personally, you never really see Greg as disadvantaged on the court. You see him as a great basketball player and as a coach you just push him to be the best he can be.”
With five years spent playing with the WolfPack, once again, Greg takes the negative, transforming it into positive. Despite TRU not making it to the post-season, “It was a good year with a new coach and the team came a long way.”
With basketball and volleyball honours to his name, Stewart’s resume is impressive to say the least.
Although Stewart is uncertain of his future at the moment, he is looking toward finishing his schooling at TRU, majoring in Human Resources.
Greg also had some encouraging words for any young players who might be discouraged from pursuing their basketball and athletic dreams for any reason.
“It’s all based upon what you want to do. Take opportunities when you can because they’re not there all the time.”
NOTE: Greg has also played for the Team Canada’s disabled sitting volleyball team, which has won gold at the World Championships in 2002, 2004, and 2006. Greg is on the Roster for the 2010-2011 season.
PHOTO COURTESY: Ryan Jackson, Punkoryan.com