Retiring numbers at the post secondary school level isn’t a practice that is conducted very often in the Canadian college or university athletic ranks. The honour requires a combination of talent, dedication and a reputation that has withstood the test of time.
This past weekend, the Fleming College Athletics Department took the opportunity to retire the first number in its volleyball program’s history.
Fleming Alumnus Mike Pluimers has held nearly every award that could be conferred on an athlete in the Ontario College Athletics Association.
“As an athlete and as a coach at Fleming he’s done everything,” explains Athletic Director Fred Batley, “He’s one of the best players we’ve ever had.”
As this is only the third number to be retired by the college, the qualifications for such a tribute are well considered before moving forward. The athletic department looks at the contribution the athlete has made toward the athletic program, the impact he or she has had on the sport and the time since the individual has been at the college.
Regardless of how you look at it, Pluimers is well suited for the distinction.
After one year at the University of Western Ontario, Pluimers entered the massage therapy program in 1996. The 6’5 middle blocker made an immediate impact not only on the Fleming volleyball program, but the league as well.
His all round skills, smooth game play and focused demeanour on the court provided the Knights with a crucial piece to take the program to the next level.
In his second year, the London native, led his team to a silver medal finish in the provincial championships while garnering OCAA league MVP, Academic All Canadian awards. Pluimers also received the Fleming Men’s Volleyball MVP awards in 96/97 and 97/98 as well as the Male Athlete of the Year award in 96/97.
Once his playing days were done, the hard court stand out maintained his dedication to the athletic program at Fleming by coaching both the men and women’s volleyball programs.
Although, there had been rumours that this mark of distinction was in the works, the 35 year old admits he was very surprised.
“It’s such an honour,” stated the 35 year old. “Fleming is like home and to be recognized like this is humbling.”
In 2000, Pluimers was identified as one of the best in college volleyball history by being named to the OCAA All-Millennium Team and again in 2003 when he was inducted into the OCAA Hall of Fame.
The retirement ceremony, which took place prior to the regular season match between Fleming and Trent, must have inspired the home team. The Knights handed the Excalibur a 3-1 defeat.
The Fleming women’s team wasn’t so lucky as they fell to the Trent women in a four set loss.