Spotlight - Aaron VandenBrink and Jason Senechal

Aaron VandenBrink

Aaron VandenBrink lives by a simple motto, “You’ve got to give back what you get from people.”
 
This year, VandenBrink has been asked to wear the #11 jersey in honour of Spartan player Jason Senechal who passed unexpectedly in 2003 during a beach volleyball tournament. After Senechal passed, TWU retired his jersey in his memory. For the first time, the coaching staff has decided to unretire the #11 jersey and award it to an athlete who epitomizes what Senechal‘s values. It is considered the highest honour for a Trinity Volleyball player.
 
“It’s a huge honour to wear his number,” explained VandenBrink, a fourth year player. “I wouldn’t say I understand who he was as a teammate, but I know he was a pretty incredible person.”
 
A key member of the Spartans on and off the court, Jason led the team bible study, prayer time and was one of the team's spiritual leaders all of his years at TWU. An active member in the community with ministry outreach programs, coaching in FVVC club and ministry trips, Jason even toured Thailand with AIA Volleyball.
 
A serving specialist, Senechal went two full seasons without missing a serve off the bench. His mental toughness and determination inspired his teammates to play harder, while his ever present smile helped guide them through good times and bad.
 
“While I was an older player, Jason was a teammate I truly looked up to. His outlook on life, school and his ability to blend spirituality and sport was and is an inspiration to me.” explained Ben Josephson, head coach for the Spartan’s men’s volleyball team. “It also has helped shape my mentality as the coach of this team in trying to create Spartans who live, love and play as Jason did in the three years we were teammates.”

“Jason showed me that I could make a difference. He really inspired me,” said VandenBrink, who was coached by Senechal in his first year with FVVC.

In VandenBrink, the coaching staff sees a lot of the same qualities that made Senechal the heart of the Spartans.

“Aaron is a strong Christian leader on our team and fills a "big brother" role for many of the guys," Josephson said. "His unconditional love for his teammates and those around him is one of purest caring attitudes I've had the pleasure to coach.”
 
Battling partially herniated disks for the past two years, VandenBrink continually plays as hard, if not harder, than the rest of his team. While he admits playing through the pain is difficult, he also feels it's given him the chance to grow in new ways and lead in word and in action.

“I just want to be able to help out the younger guys and pass on what I’ve learned," Vandenbrink said. "You’ve got to give back what you’ve been given. Being given this number is a huge honour, and I’m still amazed the coaching staff believes I’m deserving.”

Noted for always putting his team ahead of himself, VandenBrink‘s passion makes him a role model, not just for his teammates, but for all.

Last Updated: 2010-06-02
Author: Breanne Fultz