‘It’s like a chess match’: From STU volleyball to the England National Team

Volleyball player Chris Christie is seen in this file photo. (Billy Cole/AQ Archives)

Christian Christie arrived at St. Thomas University five years ago to pursue volleyball. After half a decade with the Tommies, he continues to build his volleyball career in England, playing professionally with the England National Team.

The opportunity came about after Henri Mallet, coach of the STU men’s volleyball team, connected with a sports agent who recruits North American student athletes for European sports.

Christie describes Europe as a prime hub for going pro in sports. He said the professional team is strategy-intensive.

“It’s like a chess match inside a volleyball match. The mental side of it is huge,” he said.

Christie said the team constantly has to be taking in information and processing it as quickly as they can.

“[At STU] a lot of times we’d set up fairly similar, around the same spot. At the next level…we would shift a little bit to give [the opponents] a slightly different picture to look at so they never get too comfortable and never see the same thing twice. That’s something different I noticed right away.”

Christie is slated to play for the University of Essex as a student athlete and hopes to relay his insights to the university team. During his time in England, he has already flown with the national team to play in Slovakia.

Christie said he is settling in well overseas. He started training a few days after he arrived on Aug. 12. The pre-season at the University of Essex will begin soon and he has grasped the understanding of English volleyball.

He said he is getting to know his teammates, has family in London and is adjusting to the large Essex campus.

“It’s been fantastic – everyone I’ve met so far has been really, really nice,” said Christie.

Christie reminisces on his time at STU with gratitude. He met most of his closest friends at STU and feels nostalgic for its close-knit community.

“It’s so different adjusting to being in a different spot without those people that you’ve met who are such good friends, and you’d just gotten used to them being there and seeing them all the time,” said Christie. “The community at STU, especially on the volleyball team, you miss them.”

After Christie completed a double major in criminology and psychology at STU, he will pursue a master’s degree in sports and exercise psychology at Essex.

“I wouldn’t change how anything went,” Christie said. “Looking back over the past five years and how far [STU’s athletic] program’s come — it’s been really cool to look back on this year.”

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