Josh Doornenbal-Rising to the Challenge

Josh Doornenbal - Men's Volleyball

Men's Volleyball
Second Year

Being told you're not good enough is hard. Rising to the challenge and not only working to fix your weaknesses, but to make them your greatest strength, is even harder. Josh Doornenbal was faced with this challenge in high school, and his response was one we can all be inspired by.

Currently a second year middle blocker for the Spartans men's volleyball team, Josh is an anchor for the young squad in just his second season. He's a quality offensive player, but it's his devastating blocking that makes him such a good player at such a young age.

"He's lighting fast, with really quick feet and closes like a train," says TWU men's volleyball head coach Ben Josephson on Doornenbal. "He's an explosive athlete, and has a great motor. His motor is what impresses me the most."

But it wasn't always this way, and Josh wasn't always known for his blocking. In high school, he attended Edmonton Christian, a small double A school, and in his grade 10 year his team won provincials, and that summer he made Alberta's U16 team. His experience there was so positive, he decided to drop soccer and concentrate solely on volleyball. His grade 11 year went as planned as Josh and his team dominated the regular season, and they looked to be on their way to back-to-back titles. That is until their starting setter injured his arm in the playoffs, and the team missed provincials entirely. After one disappointment, Josh would face another as he was cut from the U17 team that summer.

"They told me the reason was that I wasn't good enough at blocking," recalls Josh of the reason his coaches gave. "They thought I wasn't closing to the outside as well as I needed to. So that became my motivation for that next season, school year and club season. I set a goal for myself that I wouldn't leave a block without going up for it regardless of how late or slow I was."

Josh held true to his word, and his defense quickly caught with his offense, making him and his team a force. His high school team won AA provincials, and by that summer he had not only made the Alberta U18 squad, but was also named to the junior national team.

"They told me the reason I made that team was because of my blocking," Josh says with a smile. "They were most impressed with my blocking ability, which I thought was ironic seeing as that was why I cut caught the year before."

It was about this time that Canadian colleges and universities finally starting noticing Josh too. During his grade 12 year he had sent highlight tapes and letters to schools across Western Canada, yet received no scholarship offers. He finally got noticed by Canadian college powerhouse Red Deer College coach Keith Hanson.

"Coach Hanson said we definitely needed to look at him at U18 nationals," Coach Josephson remembers. "So I'm standing there at nationals with University of Alberta coach Terry Danyluk, and we both watched him play, and it was one of those moments where we looked at each other and said ‘You going to recruit this kid? Yeah? Me too!'"

Doornenbal went from being an unknown to a recruit that was sought after by two of the best teams in the country. The Spartans, who had just won their first national championship, and the Golden Bears, who had played for the title five straight years, winning twice, became the frontrunners. Although he liked both schools, Josh finally settled on becoming a Spartan because he related to the small school atmosphere, and community feel to TWU.

Once on campus, Josh thought he'd practice and watch from the bench as a veteran team made a run at back-to-back titles. But then another challenge was put in front of him- or maybe he was thrown in front of it!

"When I got recruited I didn't expect to see the floor at all until my third year," said Josh. "I figured I wouldn't see the floor until Doug (Van Spronsen) graduated." But Van Spronsen injured his knee in the first semester, and Josh was put into the starting lineup, where he played like a veteran, and was an integral part of a team that finished third in the country.

This season Josh, who is in the top seven in the Canada West in blocks and service aces, has taken on some new challenges.

"He's working hard to try and carve out a role as a leader," Coach Josephson says of Doornenbal. "We really look to him to be that rock, a guy that makes plays. He definitely reminds me of a young Chris Meehan, in that he's a tough competitor and he leads with the plays that he makes."

Meehan, an assistant coach with the team, is one of the best to ever play for the Spartans, and was the MVP of Nationals for TWU's 2006 National Champion. While Josh has a ways to go to match Meehan's accomplishments, he's already proven that he's not afraid to meet a challenge, and will work that much harder to make the Spartans champions again.



Last Updated: 2008-01-19
Author: Jeff Kilpatrick

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cc10-11Western Washington Classic (Bellingham, Wash.)09:00:00

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