April 26, 2013, Langley, BC (ISN) – One year after graduating from Trinity Western and helping the Spartans men’s volleyball team to its second consecutive CIS national championship, Rudy Verhoeff (Calgary) has signed his first professional contract, committing to Chaumont Volley-Ball 52 Haute-Marne of France’s top division earlier this week.
After playing a variety of positions while with TWU, Verhoeff has signed on with CVB52HM as a middle, returning to the position he played in high school and early in his Spartans career.
Verhoeff will join CVB52HM this fall where he will look to help a rapidly improving team that, this past season – its first year in France’s Pro A league – finished fourth in the regular season standings before bowing out of the playoffs in the quarter-finals. He will be playing in the same league that former Spartan Josh Howatson currently is competing in with Paris Volley.
Verhoeff graduated from TWU in 2012 after a stellar five-year career that he capped by helping the Spartans to national titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12. In his final year with the Spartans, he was named a CIS First Team All-Canadian and Canada West First Team All-Star and was the winner of the Dale Iwanoczko Award, which is given to the CIS player who best exemplifies excellence in volleyball, academics and community involvement. This success came on the heels of a 2010-11 campaign in which he was named a CIS Second Team All-Canadian and Canada West First Team All-Star and was also the MVP of the CIS national championship tournament.
With a day off from his training at Canada’s national training centre in Gatineau, Que., Verhoeff talked about his new contract and his life since leaving TWU.
How did you make the decision to sign with a club in France?
“I was talking to Josh (Howatson) about his experience in France and he talked highly of it. France is a really stable place to play. You know you’re going to get paid and that the coaches are good. It was my dream to play in France, and to have that come true right away is phenomenal.”
What will it be like going back to the middle position?
“It feels like home. It’s definitely a more comfortable position for me. Sure, I may be undersized. I’m not like the big guys like (former Spartan) Dan (Jansen Van Doorn) or (current Spartan) Lucas (Van Berkel), but I think I make up for that in decision making and quickness. I think it will provide a good opportunity for me. I’m not closed off to only playing middle from now on but for next season, that’s the plan.”
What do you know about your new club, CVB52HM?
“The coach (Nikola Matijasevic) is actually my agent’s father. He’s a Serbian guy and he’s a really well-known coach and he runs a good program. They recently qualified for next year’s Challenge Cup, so they’ll be signing some good players to be competitive in that.”
What has this past year at the National Training Centre been like?
“It’s been interesting. It’s been challenging and it’s been a lot of fun. With your focus only being volleyball as opposed to volleyball and school, there’s so much more you can invest in and you can really focus on changing some old habits. You just have more time in the gym. Trinity Western developed me really well into the player I was entering this year, but I’ve also grown a lot since then.
“I trained mostly as a left side player this year, until just the last few weeks. We had a few injuries in the middle and then I signed this contract in the middle, so now I’ve switched the middle.”
What is the routine like at the National Training Centre?
“We have nine sessions a week, generally. We’re at the gym four to six hours per day. We did a tour of Argentina at the start of the year and then a month ago, we did a tour of France. Between all the practices, we’ve also had a chance to play a few university teams.”
What was the experience like when you toured France?
“We got to see the ins and the outs of the pro system and compare our training to some of the top teams in France. We played three of top pro teams in France. It was good to know we can play with these guys. It was awesome exposure to what professional volleyball is like.”
What does the summer look like for you in terms of playing on a Canadian roster?
“There are opportunities to make that Senior ‘B’-FISU team and the World League roster. We won’t know anything until after tryouts. They kind of keep us in the dark. The tryouts for the Senior ‘B’ team are May 9-13.”
How did your experience at TWU help you this past year?
“I think TWU gave me a really, really solid foundation for what it takes to get to the next level. With the training that (TWU coach) Ben (Josephson) implemented and the program and the type of work ethic he expects, TWU was definitely a spring board that has allowed me to jump to the next phase.”