Switching positions in an Olympic year might deter some athletes, but Rudy Verhoeff embraced the challenge.
At the end of his pro season, Canadian senior men’s national team coach Glenn Hoag called Verhoeff to let the versatile volleyball player know that they were moving him to a new position to make up for some injuries.
Instead of playing a middle role, Verhoeff would play the right-side.
It wasn’t a completely new position, as Verhoeff had played it at a high level during his university career with the Trinity Western Spartans, helping the team win back-to-back CIS national championship titles in both 2011 and 2012, winning the most valuable player award that first year.
“My style of play is more well rounded, I am not designated as one position type player,” Verhoeff explained.
“And I was just grateful for the opportunity.”
That doesn’t mean the transition was easy.
“There were days that were absolutely terrible and I felt like the worst volleyball player ever and there were days and moments where I was ‘I can do this,’” he said.
“It was challenging for sure but I am grateful for the chance to give it a shot.”
And the work has paid off.
On Friday (July 22), Verhoeff was nominated by the Canadian Olympic Committee and Volleyball Canada to represent Canada at the Rio Games.
They run Aug. 5 to 21.
The first people he told were his parents, Paul and Cobi and his girlfriend, Kyla Richey. Richey is a member of the Canadian women’s national team.
The 27-year-old Verhoeff was born and raised in Calgary, but now calls Langley home when he is not playing professionally.
Verhoeff is the youngest of four and his parents and siblings Lance, Anya and Lies all live in Langley now.
Lance played basketball for Trinity Western while Lies was on the Spartans volleyball team. She also played with the Canadian women’s national team program.
His parents, both sisters, his girlfriend and an uncle will be attending the Games.
Verhoeff first played for Canada with the junior national team program in 2009 and has been a staple of the senior program since graduating from TWU in 2013.
“Growing up, you always dream of a, representing your country and b, doing so at the Olympics. That is the ultimate goal, right?” he asked.
“To do so on the biggest stage is an incredible honour.”
“It is humbling to step on the court,” Verhoeff added.
“They play our anthem before every match and I always take time to think of all the people back home. Our country is such an amazing place and I am always grateful and honoured to step on the floor and wear the Maple Leaf.”