- BC Games
‘A dream for a long time’
Hearing the national anthem and seeing the Canadian flag before an international match is a sight to behold for Rudy Verhoeff.
“You have that moment, where you are standing there and they are playing the national anthem before the match, it is pretty cool,” Verhoeff said.
“To play for Canada, this has been a dream for a long time.”
The 24-year-old was chatting with The Times by phone from Gatineau, Que. last week.
And starting on Monday, Verhoeff will be back in Langley as a member of the Canadian men’s senior national volleyball team. Verhoeff plays middle for the Canadians.
The team is taking part in the 2013 NORCECA men’s volleyball Continental championships, which begins Monday (Sept. 23) and runs until Sept. 28.
They will be staged in the Langley Events Centre’s arena bowl.
Also on the Canadian roster is former Trinity Western Spartan volleyball player Josh Howatson.
It was just two years ago that Verhoeff was playing at the LEC as a member of the Trinity Western Spartans, helping the program capture back-to-back CIS national championships in 2011 and 2012. In the 2011 tournament at the LEC, Verhoeff was named most valuable player and was carried off the court on the shoulders of the student body.
In addition to earning first team CIS all-Canadian and Canada West first team all-star awards, Verhoeff also won the Dale Iwanoczko Award which is given to the player who best exemplifies excellence in volleyball, academics and community involvement.
Just how far his game has grown is still surprising to Verhoeff.
He began playing as a teenager in Calgary, but it was when he made the U16 provincial team in Alberta that Verhoeff seriously thought he could go somewhere in the game.
“I caught a little bit of a break getting recruited to Trinity Western because I probably wasn’t talented enough to break into the CIS scene,” he admitted.
Verhoeff figures that the fact his older sister, Lies, had gone to the school worked in his favour.
“The coaching staff knew me and I was a good fit for the program, but maybe not talented enough,” he said. “But I really thrived at Trinity. I was under really good coaching from Ben Josephson.
“I worked really hard, but it was the environment that catapulted me to the national scene.”
Verhoeff graduated from Trinity Western in 2012 with a major in religious studies and a minor in biology.
He had spent previous summers training and playing with the national team program, but this is his first time on the senior team.
“It was a dream for a long time. My sister had played for the national team in volleyball as well, so I had grown up watching her play,” he said.
“This was a long-shot dream but after a lot of hard work, it actually came to reality.”
Earlier this summer, he helped the Canadian team pull off a shocking upset, as the world’s No. 18 team defeated the second-ranked — and 2012 Olympic gold medal champions — from Russia in five sets at the FIVB World League Final in Argentina.
Canada is currently ranked 11th in the latest FIVB rankings.
“Playing in front of Canadian fans like we did earlier this summer in World League was awesome, but to get to play in Canada, in front of Canadian fans that you know, that are your friends and family … is going to be remarkable and memorable.”
Following the Continental championships, Verhoeff will begin the next phase of his volleyball career. At the end of the month, Verhoeff will depart for Paris where he will join Chaumont Volley-Ball 52 Haute-Marne of France’s top division.
The team plays in France’s Pro A league.