By James Mirtle
Men’s volleyball coach Mirek Porosa is a happy guy these days, and it’s no secret why.
Anton Hauser and Lukas Porosa, first and second-team Ontario University Athletics all-stars in 2002-03, are back. After missing the entire season last year, their return has brought a giddy anticipation for what could be a first-ever volleyball championship for Ryerson.
“I’m very excited,” said Coach Porosa, Lukas’ father.”Every practice, my face is smiling. “It’s a huge impact on the team. They bring experience and a never-lose attitude. They hate to lose.”
For Hauser and Porosa, sitting on the sidelines was as hard for them as it was on the team’s performance.
“Watching instead of playing, that’s tough,” said Hauser, who left Ryerson last year due to an academic suspension. “I missed the team aspect. It’s such a close group and I was close with them. “Lukas knows just as well as I do how frustrating it is to be watching.”
“I missed it,” said the younger Porosa, who was sidelined with a serious thumb injury that required surgery last August. “Last year I was helping out with the team, and it was different because I’ve been playing for 10 years without a break. And having to take a break for a whole year, it was an adjustment. I got into coaching, learning, but right now it feels great because I’m still young and I’d rather be playing than sitting and watching.”
Even without two of their centrepieces, the Rams managed a 7-9 record last season and a berth in the playoffs. Sophomore rightside Ryan Vandenberg – all 6-foot-10 of him – arrived as a force in the OUA, as he finished second overall in points and was named a first team all-star. Vandenberg was also selected as Ryerson’s male athlete of the year.
“He’s so fun to watch,” said Hauser. “He’s so big everything just looks really easy.”
In addition to playing with Vandenberg again, the 28-year-old Hauser said he’s also looking forward to playing with the team’s other talented players, some of whom are ten years his junior.
“Just seeing the team [is exciting].It’s so young, and the kids look up to me. It’s a good relationship [I have] with the younger kids, and they are eager to listen. I’m the oldest by far, but I don’t notice it that much. I’m young at heart.”
Hauser, a fan favourite at Ryerson due to his amazing 38-inch vertical leap, hasn’t had much idle time during the layoff. A prolific professional beach volleyball player, Hauser and partner Jessie Lelliot finished third at the 2004 Canadian Beach Volleyball Championships.
The pair even defeated recent Olympians John Child and Mark Heese in a preliminary match. Despite his plethora of success, Hauser says playing for Ryerson helps his game.
“Indoor and beach [volleyball] are two different games, and playing at Ryerson is still really competitive ball,” he said.”I can still learn a lot playing here.” The Rams kick off their exhibition campaign versus the Royal Military College this weekend. Game one goes 8 p.m. Friday night at Kerr Hall Gym.