Chennai, 29th February 2024: David Kisiel’s soft-spoken persona is hard to miss, even in the first glance. The sense of self-consciousness he feels is evident when he talks about himself. But ask him about what kind of impact volleyball has had in his life and his journey in the sport, and his eyes lights up. David is part of the Kolkata Thunderbolts franchise where he plays as an attacker in the ongoing Season 3 of RuPay Prime Volleyball League powered by A23 in Chennai.

David’s introduction to volleyball was purely accidental. Starting his sporting career with basketball from the age of 5, he received his introduction to the sport after his twin sister Natalie, asked him to play as a substitute in a match with her.

“It was a co-ed team. I joined their practice and I had a good time out there. That was my first introduction to the sport. After that, I started attending more volleyball camps. I started playing in high school and then joined a club team. After that, I got recruited to play at a Division One University (Grand Canyon University), which is the top level in USA,” he recalled.

Despite a good track record in the University, David had to struggle to earn his first professional contract. At the time, David began pursuing computer science course to become a software engineer. After working through a few internships during his University days, he managed to land a great opportunity.
“Because I had a very good job opportunity lined up as a software engineer, working in the same company as my brother or I could take the route of becoming a professional volleyball player. And this was actually a very hard decision for me, because with sports, you never know how long you can play for,” he recalled.

This time, too, fortunes turned for him, when he was called up by the Dutch Club VC Limac during a tough season. “They told me ‘we’re not having a good season. We need someone to come here and help turn things around.’ I flew out there. It was supposed to be a one-week trial and after one practice, they gave me a contract. I believed I have God-given athletic skills, so, I joined them.”

The 26-year-old joined up with the Savo Volley, a Finland-based club, which earned him the opportunity to play in the prestigious CEV Champions League. “It was something I really wanted to do, because it helped me get the exposure to the entire European volleyball market and play at a high level,” David said.

David’s family remained supportive of his choices, despite him being the only one in his family to pursue sports as a career path. While his twin sister who works as a nurse, his elder brother, Matthew works as a software engineer. His father (now retired) and his mother, also work at a hospital.

While he was making a name for himself in the European circuits, he was informed about the RuPay Prime Volleyball League powered by A23 by Matt August, who represented the Kolkata Thunderbolts in the first season. David, who trained with Matt in his hometown, kept asking him about the league, and once he found out there was an opening in the franchise, he shared his videos and portfolio to the franchise via Matt to Kolkata.

“After speaking with Matt, he spoke very highly about this team, and about this league and his experience here. So since then, I spoke with the Kolkata Thunderbolts management, and they were interested in bringing me here and that’s how the process started.”

Having already been a regular in the starting line-up for the Thunderbolts this season, David said that he is impressed to see the athletic nature of the Indian volleyball stars and is enjoying the new and fresh scoring systems and the rules in India.

“Indian players are very athletic; they can jump very high and hit the ball hard. But it seems like there’s more technicality, and more fundamentals in Europe. The level I played in Finland and in the European Championship Cups, the level is a bit higher, but the format is different. Here, the rules like the super point and the sets of 15 points makes it a completely different game where anything can happen. This style makes volleyball so much fun to play. Anyone can win this league,” he said.

Always wanting to visit India and experience the cultural vastness of the country, David is also enjoying his time currently in Chennai and believes the league has brought joy back in his sporting career.

“India has been very cool to experience. This was a perfect opportunity for me at this stage of my career life. I have been playing for several years, and there are a lot of ups and downs that come with playing as a professional. The takeaway from here so far is that there’s a lot of joy in this sport and I am thankful to the league for bringing it back to my life,” he signed off.