Rudy Verhoeff becomes a part of Canadian volleyball history Written by Andrew Patterson
The Spartan athletic program proved to be the finest in the nation once again as two Trinity Western University alumni represented Canada in the 2013 Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) World League tournament. One of the alumni who played in the tournament was Rudy Verhoeff, a 2012 graduate of TWU. With an outstanding performance, Verhoeff and Team Canada made Canadian volleyball history during the FIVB World League tournament this past July, as they defeated the reigning Olympic champions - Team Russia.
“The experience of being on the biggest stage of volleyball was surreal,” said Verhoeff. “Playing against players that I emulated my game after was a unique experience. It would be like playing Sidney Crosby for all the kids growing up playing hockey. It was amazing.”
Verhoeff cracked the competitive roster spot for the Canadian national team due to his hard work and dedication to the game. However, Verhoeff insisted that he would not have made it this far if it wasn’t for his time playing as a TWU Spartan.
“I was always dreaming of playing for our national team, but it usually takes a few years of ‘putting in your time’ before you actually get to hit the floor,” explained Verhoeff. “That process was fast tracked for me because of my preparation from TWU.” Verhoeff had an outstanding five-year volleyball career at TWU. Playing various positions for the Spartans, Verhoeff was a huge part of the Spartans’ championship titles in the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 seasons. In his final year as a Spartan, not only was he named a CIS First Team All-Canadian and Canada West First Team All-Star, but he was also the winner of the Dale Iwanoczko Award for his excellence in volleyball, academics and community involvement.
Not only has TWU’s program made Verhoeff a better volleyball player, it has also strengthened his relationship with God. “You learn so much about yourself as an athlete in light of who God is when attending TWU,” said Verhoeff. “My time at Trinity gave me international experiences where we could play at a high level but also figure out how God wants us to be playing for a larger purpose - His glory.”
During the FIVB World League tournament this summer, world No. 18 Canada made history by defeating the world No. 2 Russians. Verhoeff was fortunate to be a part of this epic comeback victory. “We knew that if we played our top game we could win and we never gave up,” said Verhoeff. And play their top game they did, as Canada came all the way back from a 2-0 deficit to win it in the fifth and final set. “It was a great feeling to be a part of a game when the whole team came together, worked together and fought together to overcome that two set deficit. It was very special!”
Verhoeff had also recently signed a contract to play professional volleyball in France. He now plays for Chaumont Volley-Ball 52 Haute-Marne, a top-tier team in France’s professional volleyball league. For the average North American, it is hard to picture a career in professional volleyball, but in the rest of the world volleyball has a large following and sport industry. “North America is the only spot in the world where there is no professional volleyball,” said Verhoeff, “There are over 40 different professional leagues around the world! I am playing in France this year and it is probably the second favourite sport behind soccer.” And although Verhoeff has made it to the big leagues, he has still not reached his ultimate goal. “My hope and dream is to make the Olympics. Hopefully that will be in Brazil 2016!”
Although his time with the Spartans has already come to an end, there is still an opportunity to watch him in action. Verhoeff will be playing at the end of September in the NORCECA Championship, which will be hosted at the LEC. So be a good Spartan and lend him your support!