By Devin Jones
For the past 16 years Mirek Porosa, head coach of the Ryerson men’s volleyball team, has chaperoned his squad to Cuba for some fun in the sun.
“I fell in love with the country,” Porosa says. “I saw an opportunity to establish a quality sports camp for Ryerson athletes on a budget, that provides quality of competition and a positive environment to grow.”
Spending seven days together has become a ritual for Porosa and some of his veteran players who have made the trip three or four times already. While having fun is part of the process, Porosa points out that the experience is much more than just a vacation.
“There’s no cell phones, no Internet, nothing. It’s about getting to know each other and how diverse of a team we are,” Porosa says. “It can be a very intense experience, but one that helps us as a team and as individuals.”
Each day the team is up at 6:30 a.m., where a group meeting discussing the theme of the day is followed by a quick breakfast. That’s followed by a 45-minute bus ride to a gym in Matanzas, “where all the action happens,” according to fourth-year libero Wesley Kosiba.
Matanzas is where the Ryerson Rams face off against the Cuban national team, considered one of the best in the world.
“For the guys who are here for the fi rst time, it can be daunting because the [Cuban] national team has some of the best players in the world,” Kosiba says. “It’s a great opportunity for us, and for the seniors it’s all about handling business.”
The trip poses a great fi nancial responsibility to the Rams, but Porosa notes that going to Cuba has always made the most economic sense. Although the trip isn’t always a guarantee, Porosa made it clear that no player is left behind. Sponsorships, fundraising and contributions from players have been able to cover the costs, but the trip could one day become too expensive.
“It would be economic reasons, if we stopped going,” he says.
“Right now the players love it and want to continue with the trip, but with certain things happening, it might become too expensive for us to go eventually.” To some, this annual trip looks just like a vacation. But for the Rams, Cuba gives the team a chance to form a special bond only found in sports. To second-year outside hitter Lucas Coleman, this bond is important.
“With guys commuting back and forth from Ryerson, we don’t always have the opportunity to get to know each other and just hang out,” Coleman says. “This trip allows us to say the things that are hard to say, but are worth it in the end. We’ve all become a lot closer for it.”