‘An honour to play for your country’
Dan Jansen Van Doorn had played on big stages before.
The fifth-year middle blocker for the Trinity Western Spartans has been a key part of the university’s men’s volleyball team which has won back-to-back Canadian Interuniversity Sport national titles.
And he has even played for Canada before, spending this past summer with the men’s B team, as well as representing his country — along with his Spartan teammates — last October in Qatar at the world club championships.
But this is something different.
“A nervous excitement,” the 22-year-old said.
“It is quite the honour (to play for your country).
“And we are lucky enough to play as a team and at the same time, represent a larger amount of people.”
The Spartans were chosen to represent Canada at the inaugural U23 Pan American Volleyball Cup. The six-day, five-team tournament — which also features Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and the Dominican Republic — kicked off on Tuesday and wraps up on Sunday with the gold medal match at 5 p.m. All of the games are being contested at the Langley Events Centre.
“It is a tremendous opportunity to play for Canada,” said Jansen Van Doorn, one of a trio of Langley players on the roster. And of the 16 players on the team, 11 are from the Fraser Valley and have come up through the Fraser Valley Volleyball Club system.
“It is the best of both worlds — getting to sleep in my own bed, see my family, get play in such a great venue in front of family and friends and such a great crowd in a quality tournament,” he said.
As for expectations since they are the home team, that shouldn’t be a problem considering the experience many of the current players have, which includes winning the 2010 national championship on the Spartans home floor at the LEC.
“Being able to play in the national final at home in front of a packed house, there was obviously a ton of pressure,” Jansen Van Doorn said.
“And I think that is a tremendous benefit for us in the tournament.”
“Half of our team has had international experience,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson.
“But getting to play in your gym in front of your friends and family is a new experience here.”
“It is always a proud moment to wear your flag on your shirt,” he added.
Jansen Van Doorn said he is eager to see how his side stacks up against other parts of the world.
“It is nice to see where volleyball is at at different age groups across the globe,” he said.
Brazil’s senior men’s team is ranked first in the world while their youth men’s team is sixth.
Canada is 18th at the senior level and 19th at the junior level, while Argentina is ninth and second, Mexico is 23rd and 25th, and the Dominican Republic is 45th and 28th, respectively.