The Great Bambino. His Airness. Broadway Joe. Those are some of sports most notable nicknames. For David Kantor, a professional volleyball player and Knight of Columbus, he had a moniker perhaps more unconventional: Church.
“Whenever we go traveling to South America, Japan, anywhere, the first thing I do at the hotel is ask ‘where’s the nearest Catholic Church?’ So my nickname is Church,” Kantor chuckles in a video interview with the K of C.
“I didn’t mind it.” Kantor says, going on to comment that he “couldn’t separate my faith from my life. I was confident that I was giving glory to God by playing volleyball.”
Kantor could have gone down a different path. As a young man, his career as a professional volleyball player took him around the world. With this stardom came temptations to stray away from Catholicism.
“People treating you like a star,” Kantor said. “It makes you look into yourself a little bit more, be more self-absorbed whereas Jesus teaches us to the opposite.”
Kantor began playing volleyball at an early age, eventually earning a spot on the Canadian national volleyball team. He was so “amazed and blessed” by the opportunity to represent his country and compete in Europe against top volleyball teams from around the world.
While in Europe, Kantor says he had a great opportunity to enrich his Catholic faith. He describes being raised Catholic, giving him a foundation in the faith.
“When we went off to university and then over to Europe, I realized how important it was to me. … People would ask me questions all about my lifestyle and I had to explain it,” Kantor said. “I would call my mom, and ask ‘How do I explain this part of my faith?’”
“It made me dig down deep a little bit more and, and find the answers to those questions that people had and, and it really, really deepened my faith, which was a real blessing. It made it stronger. And it really affirmed the kind of life I wanted to live,” Kantor said.
Today, Kantor considers himself one of the most blessed men around. “I have a beautiful wife of 13 years now. And we have six kids. … Life is happily busy.”
Over the years, Kantor saw men serving in the community and realized he wanted to join them. Looking back, he remembered that “growing up I saw the Knights serving a lot.”
“I like to help people and this was a good way for me to put my faith into action more than just going to church on Sunday,” Kantor said. “It goes beyond that to helping people and giving to the community. I think the Knights are one of the best organizations for that.”
“As a big organization [the K of C] can help globally — Disaster relief and Special Olympics that kind of thing — but they also can help at a community level like Coats for Kids and smaller events, both large and small. I think they cover the whole gamut of serving others,” Kantor said.
Now that he’s a Knight, Kantor says that he realizes more fully extent of how Knights help and serve their neighbor.
“Being one of the Knights, I really see the power of numbers and power of teamwork and how that can make such a difference in the community.”
As a dad of six kids, Kantor says that there are definitely days when he’s short on free time, but he still finds his commitment to the Knights to be very manageable.
“The Knights have regular meetings that you can go to. They have regular events that you can take part in. But they've made it clear that there's no pressure to be involved a certain number of hours a year, which I appreciate,” he said. “I could see down the road being involved more in a greater capacity than now.”
Kantor joined the Knights online at kofc.org/join.
“It was a very simple process,” Kantor said. “Within minutes I got an email and I was contacted by someone from a local council within a couple of days.”
Reflecting on his identity, Kantor says “I’m Canadian, I’m a former professional volleyball player, I’m a Catholic above all, a husband and a father and, now, I’m a Knight.”
Ready to join the Knights? From now through Dec. 31, 2020, enter promo code MCGIVNEY2020 for 12 months of free online membership. Share your story of signing up for online membership. Email email@example.com.
Originally published in a weekly edition of Knightline, a resource for K of C leaders and members. Access Knightline’s monthly archives.
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