All his life, Larry Plenert kept getting asked the same question.
For over 50 years, he said, someone would take note of his 6’6” frame and want to know if he was a basketball player.
“No, I’m a volleyball player,” Plenert would respond, with some pride.
Plenert told the story at his induction into the Volleyball BC Hall of Fame last year in the Athlete category, with a 10-year record of elite-level competition representing Canada at the NORCECA Championships, FISU World Student Games, FIVB World Championships, Pan Am Games, Olympics Games, Friendship Games and Canada Cup.
At Trinity Western University in Langley, he will be remembered for his coaching.
TWU assistant athletic director Carol Hofer, whose coaching overlapped with Plenert’s coaching career at TWU, recalled how Plenert handled himslef when he came aboard, rather suddenly.
“He took a team of people he didn’t recruit and he did a great job,” Hofer told the Langley Advance Times.
She recalled Plenert’s sense of humour.
“He was a really funny guy,” Hofer commented.
“I’m really sad to lose him.”
On Wednesday, Feb. 11, Trinity Western University issued a statement saying TWU and the Spartan family were “deeply saddened by the passing of former Spartans’ head coach Larry Plenert.”
Plenert was the Spartans women’s volleyball head coach in TWU’s inaugural 1999-2000 season in Canada West and the CIAU.
He started playing volleyball for John Oliver Secondary School in 1970 and was named MVP of BCVA junior men’s provincials in his second season. He became a Team BC player shortly after, and helped the squad secure bronze in the Canada Summer Games and second place at the National Senior Men’s Championships. Larry continued to develop by playing for the University of Winnipeg Wesmen, leading the team to two consecutive CIAU Championships, and earning both the Canada West and CIAU 1st All-Star Awards in 1974.
Along with the Volleyball BC Hall of Fame, Plenert and his Wesman team was also inducted into the Manitoba Hall of Fame in 2015, followed by the Manitoba Sport Hall of Fame in 2016.
One online biography described him as a “lawyer, teacher, coach, musician and Olympic athlete who has worn many hats” including working as an adjudicator of claims of serious physical or sexual abuse by former students of Indian residential schools.