Spartans going to Qatar
The Trinity Western Spartans will have their work cut out for them this fall.
The Spartans, the Canadian Interuniversity Sport men's volleyball champions, have been chosen to represent Canada at the FIVB club world championships this October in Doha, Qatar.
They were chosen by NORCECA (North America, Central America and Caribbean) to represent the region at the eight-team tournament which features the world's best club teams, including the two-time defending champions Trentino from Italy and Russian champion Zenit Kazan.
"It's essentially like our basketball team going to play the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics," said Trinity Western coach Ben Josephson.
"We're playing two or three of the best teams on the planet.
"The Trentino team basically has the volleyball equivalent of both Lebron (Juanterana Osmany) and Kobe (Matey Kaziyski) playing on it," he added, referencing NBA greats Lebron James and Kobe Bryant.
Josephson said this is probably the biggest event most of these players will take part in.
"Outside of the Olympics, there won't be a bigger competition these guys will play in," he said. "Some national teams aren't even as good as some of these teams."
Once the Spartans begin practising in September, they will put their preparation into overdrive.
"We need to be fully mid to end-season ready by Oct. 8 just not to get embarrassed ," Josephson said.
Some players are getting a jump in the preparation courtesy of their involvement with various Canadian programs.
Rudy Verhoeff and Marc Howatson are with Canada's senior B team, preparing for the FISU Games in China in August.
And Brad Kufske, Lucas Van Berkel, Derek Thiessen and Branden Schmidt are with Canada's junior national team. The squad won silver at the Junior Pan Am Cup in Panama City and will compete at the world junior championships later this summer in Brazil.
The Spartans Canada West season begins Oct. 28.