By Stephanie Wiebe
Ryerson’s infamous “Snake” has managed to swim across the pond all the way to Europe.
Four-time Athlete of the Year and arguably the best Ryerson athlete ever, Ryan Vandenburg is now one of Denmark’s highest paid professional volleyball players — trading in his Rams blue and gold for a spot on the Middelfart Volleyball club.
“It’s a great experience here, a totally different culture from North America,” he said in an e-mail.
Vandenburg, 24, was initially hoping for a contract in Poland, but after his agent failed to co-ordinate the move, he decided to play in Denmark at the last minute. With hopes of playing professional volleyball for at least a year and after a discussion with a coach in Denmark, Vandenburg settled in Middelfart. With what he notes as pretty good credentials, he was able to get a decent contract for a player with little international experience.
But moving across the Atlantic wasn’t an easy move for the recently engaged star.
“It was hard to move all the way over here leaving behind my fiance and all my friends. But it’s an opportunity that someone young can never pass up, and I’m supported by everyone which really makes things a lot easier,” he said. According to Vandenburg, his team is the second best in the country, and it’s likely they’ll have a chance to win a championship. By playing professionally overseas, Vandenburg gets to achieve his dreams and travel the world.
“I know that I have more opportunities to move forward, but we will see what I’m offered and what is best in the end,” he said.
Vandenburg started playing volleyball in Grade 11 because it was one of three sports that his high school offered in his hometown of Wooler just outside of Belleville, Ont. It wasn’t until Vandenburg was spotted by Mirek Porosa, Ryerson’s volleyball coach, that his talent was really able to flourish.
Vandenburg credits Ryerson and Porosa for shaping him professionally and personally. Porosa was able to hone and enhance his skills in order to get to the next level, and eventually enter the world of professional volleyball.
“The first two years were frustrating, he didn’t have a lot of skill but because of his potential and his heart, my vision paid off,” Porosa said. “I invested in him, I was very proud of him.”