Five Set Friday: Brett Whitley

There is nothing more exciting than seeing two great volleyball teams going the distance — to the end of the line — to a five-setter. This weekly column will provide an off-the-court look at those athletes around U SPORTS volleyball, with five sets of questions on five different topics.

This edition features Ryerson Rams middle blocker Brett Whitley. He is going into his fifth and final season and is studying Business Management.


1) It’s game day. What is your pre-game meal?

I don’t tend to eat a whole lot on game days as I don’t like to feel too heavy before I play. But I typically wake up and a have a good breakfast, nothing exciting, usually just some eggs and toast. I recently started getting Salus almost every game day for my afternoon meal. It’s a really delicious, healthy restaurant that just opened up across from the MAC. Custom quinoa box for sure.

2) What is your cheat day food?

Cheat day food is probably some spicy ramen from Jinya. 

3) If you had to cook one meal to impress, what would you be serving?

Hmmm, I’d probably do chicken breast stuffed with brie cheese and red peppers, wrapped in pastry with some sort of side. It’s the one fancy meal I know how to cook (haha).

4) If you had to pick one meal to eat every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I’d probably go sushi…. Maybe ramen. I’m obsessed with Asian food.

5) You are hosting a dinner and can invite any person past or present, who is at your table?

Hard to pick just one single icon, but I’d likely invite Warren Buffett. I’ve read his books and I’d like to pick his brain further on his investment strategies and absorb as much information as possible from him.


1) What was it about your program that drew you in?

Honestly my former coach Mirek Porosa had a huge influence on my decision to come to Ryerson. He treated me really well during the whole recruitment process and really sold me on Ryerson’s Business program. With the new Ted Rogers School of Management, all the up-and-coming infrastructure such as the SLC (Ryerson’s Student Learning Centre) and MAC (Mattamy Athletic Centre), the growth of the business program, and the fact that Toronto is the largest hub for business in Canada, it was pretty easy to choose Ryerson.

2) What teacher/mentor has been most influential on you growing up in school?

Obviously not a teacher, but certainly a mentor, I would say my dad has been the most influential on my growth throughout school. He’s always encouraged and inspired me to be successful both in sport and in academics. He’s never pushed me to do something that I don’t want to do, but he’s also never allowed me to quit when the going gets tough. If I can achieve a fraction of what my dad has achieved in his life, I’ll be happy. 

3) The one academic achievement that you are most proud of is:

I’ve always had pretty consistent good grades throughout my life. I’ve never failed a course and I have managed my time pretty efficiently with volleyball and school. I’m always floating right around becoming an Academic All-Canadian but it has eluded me over the last four years. That’s the goal for my final year! 

4) What must be in your bag everyday for school?

Necessities are a water bottle, my laptop, blank paper (I write my notes), pens and pencils, calculator, headphones, and food because I’m usually running to practice right from class. 

5) What is the best advice you received to balance school and sports?

It’s all just about managing your time effectively. Just like as you go on in life, you need to learn to juggle many different responsibilities. It’s important to prioritize your tasks and write down what needs to get done and when. You also have to be introspective and understand how you learn and study. Once you figure out what works for you, it’s smooth sailing.

Pop Culture

1) What is in your “Resume Playing” queue right now on Netflix?

I really don’t watch a whole lot of TV. I know it’s weird. But I could probably count on one hand how many full series I’ve watched through. I’d say my most played are probably Family Guy and The Office, but at this point they’re kind of just background noise. 

2) Everyone has a guilty pleasure song. What is yours?

I’m not really sure actually. I listen to almost every genre…. I’m a sucker for some Earth, Wind and Fire, but there’s no guilt there, just pleasure. 

3) Who would you want to play you in a movie? Why?

Ryan Reynolds, because he’s witty and hilarious, and the resemblance is uncanny. 

4) What was the last non-textbook book that you read?

To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink. 

5) Growing up, what TV/movie/book character did you always want to be?

I was (and am) a big fan of Lord of the Rings growing up… I always thought Aragorn was pretty cool. I wouldn’t say I wanted to be him, but I also wouldn’t say no to all that bad-assery.


1) Who is the toughest server you have ever faced?

Well being a setter and a middle throughout my career, I’ve had the luxury of not having to pass serves for the most part. I’d say that my teammates Rob Wojcik and Lucas Coleman probably have some of the toughest serves I’ve seen though. 

2) What has been your most memorable volleyball moment in your career?

Qualifying for Nationals in 2015-16

3) What has been your personal favourite dig/kill/block/assist?

Hmmm.. I did have a fairly large block on my pal Marcus Trence from Queen’s this past season 

4) Developing your game over the years, what was the one aspect that didn’t come as easy to you as others?

I’ve kind of had a weird go with volleyball throughout the years. I was pretty short when I started playing so I became a setter. Then all the sudden I grew like 8-9 inches and was able to be pretty physical. Setting didn’t exactly come naturally to me. I was good at it because it’s all I played as I got competitive, but it wasn’t something I was always stoked to be doing. Now that I’ve switched to the middle/attacking I feel way more comfortable with my game.

5) Chemistry is a big part of any sport, who was that one teammate that you just clicked with on the court?

I like to think I click with all my teammates in their own way. Not one teammate is the same, but I try and make an effort to bond with each of them even if it is in different ways. And don’t get me wrong, I can be a real competitive a-hole sometimes, but I do get along with all my teammates. My recruiting class in particular all have great chemistry because we’ve now played together for so long and have known each other for even longer.


1) You are stuck on an island and you are allowed three items. What are they?

Oh man… Probably a fishing pole for survival and leisure, a knife, annnnnd flint. I’ve decided that I’m going pure survival. 

2) If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Control the space time continuum. If that’s too nerdy, probably teleport. 

3) You can challenge any athlete to a 1-on-1 in any sport. Who is it?

I’d probably challenge Kevin Durant to a game of ping pong or something. I think I could take KD in ping pong. 

4) What is your go to dance move?

I’m a very below-average dancer. I don’t even know that I can think of a name for what I do. 

4) What is a random talent that you have?

I’m a huge video game nerd and I’m realllly good at Smash Melee.

That’s a formal challenge for whoever reads this.