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He is 21 years of age and has spent almost as many years on a volleyball court.

A setter for the Montreal Carabins for the last two seasons, Gabriel Chancy will again don the red Canadian uniform at the Summer Universiade, a rare occurrence that makes a lot of sense. 

His father was the head coach for the Carabins women’s team during the 1990s, while his mother was a senior level player, which resulted in a young Chancy being a gym rat while still a toddler. 

Most children have one object that represents their childhood. For Chancy without a doubt, it was a volleyball. 

“He was exposed to this sport at such a young age,” says Chancy’s father Jean-Pierre. “His mom was playing while she was pregnant with him and, as an infant, she would take him to her matches. At age three, you could already tell he had a larger-than-life attraction to volleyball.” 

The environment in which the young Montrealer was evolving certainly helped him learn the ropes faster than the average player. But, in spite of it all, he still had to work at his game, and it wasn’t always a walk in the park. 

“His passion never wavered,” Jean-Pierre added. “He worked hard from a very young age, started to compete around the age of eight. By then he was hooked so he worked even harder. At the age of 10, he played in leagues with 14, 16 and even 18 year-olds!”  

Fast-forward a few years: A member of the junior national team, a four-time scholar of the Quebec Foundation for Athletic Excellence (FAEQ), a Canadian all-star and Quebec champion with the Cégep de Saint-Jérôme, Chancy had officially made the leap to university ball with the Carabins. Expectations were understandably high for the rookie in the CEPSUM’s triple gym. 

What followed? RSEQ Rookie of the Year honours and a spot on the U SPORTS All-Rookie team in 2016. Honours abound, one triumph followed another, with the potential for an outstanding career for the Carabins new offensive weapon, who also studies law at UdeM. 

But in the last lap of his second season, a challenge arose. His lacklustre performance, combined with the team’s second setter’s enhanced performance, relegated Chancy to the sidelines. He was about to learn a hard lesson in circumstances he was really not very familiar with.    

“I don’t know how to explain it really, I guess I more or less lost confidence after the holiday season,” says Chancy. “My lack of success really affected me, especially since the answers did not come quite as easily as I was used to.”   

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Rare are those who succeed in maintaining a high cruising level without any hitches.   Hypothetically stung by his less than perfect conclusion to the season, Chancy stepped up and carved his way onto the Canadian senior men’s second team with whom he trained all summer in Gatineau. 

“It was one of the first times he had to face adversity in regards to his personal performance in almost 14 years,” Jean-Pierre says. “Right at the outset of summer, we saw a spark ignite. I feel that the final outcome is positive; it is perfectly normal to go through something like this and I think he handled it well.’ 

“After our loss in the RSEQ finals against the (Laval) Rouge et Or, I took two full weeks off,’ added the Carabins’ setter. I needed a boost, and I got it with the U-21 Celtic team with whom I participated in the provincial championship. I was in the perfect setting to gather strength and recover.” 

Chancy’s struggles to end the season were a turning point in his progression.

His Carabins and Team Canada teammate heading to the Universiade, Godefroy Veyron-Trudel, agrees. 

“I would say he had lost his momentum; he had an up-and-down season,” the Carabins’ technical player says. “At the Canadian selection camp, Gabriel showed up with a spark in his eyes and his leadership was back in full stride.” 

As for Chancy, motivation can’t remain dormant when you’re preparing for such an event. 

“This will be my second participation in a Universiade; it’s an outstanding experience,” he says. “It’s important to me because I know how special it is to represent my country in this type of gathering.”