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From India to Long Island: Gursaif Singh set to lead Calhoun

Calhoun boys volleyball player Gursaif Singh during game

Calhoun boys volleyball player Gursaif Singh during game at Mepham held at Mepham High School in Bellmore, New York on Sept. 10, 2016. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Calhoun’s senior leader and top volleyball player was not on the Colts roster two seasons ago.

He was not in the same school, same state or even the same hemisphere.

But when Gursaif Singh joined the Colts last year after his family moved to the United States from India, his impact was instant.

“It was a great year,” said Singh, who grew up in Haryana, which is about a drive of about three hours from New Delhi. Thanks in large part to Singh’s performance as an outside hitter, Calhoun went 13-2 last season, after going a combined 18-14 between 2013 and 2014.

Singh said he has been playing volleyball since he was in fourth grade, and has represented India’s national team at the under-14, under-16, and under-17 levels. In addition to helping his team on the court, he said playing volleyball has made his transition to a new school and country easier.

“I was kind of nervous, thinking about making friends,” said Singh, who moved to the United States with his mother, father and younger brother. “When people come from other countries, it can be pretty hard to make friends. But I made a lot of friends because of volleyball.’’

“I like playing here more,” he said, adding that he has enjoyed his teammates, coaches and practicing in better facilities. “In India, we used to train outdoors. It’s so much harder playing outdoors. When you dive outdoors, it hurts a lot more.”

Singh has acclimated so well that he was named team captain, and has assumed the leadership role that comes with it.

“When the captain is lazy, the team will be lazy, so I always try to be aggressive and work hard,” he said.

“He always works to better the other players on the court. He’s always there to help out to make everyone else around him better,” first-year coach Ryan Pastuch said. “He helps our setters and our back row players out with fundamentals, and gets everyone focused and ready to play.”

“He’s just a total competitor,” Pastuch added. “He can hit from anywhere on the court and you definitely hear a lot of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ when he goes up to hit.”

Singh said he polished his game while on India’s youth national teams, and said this time “was a great experience. All the players were like professionals. I learned a lot and met a lot of great people who helped me.”

He’s now returning the favor for his new teammates on the other side of the globe.


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