Video Spotlight - Brayden Volkenant

LANGLEY, British Columbia -As the Trinity Western men’s soccer team opened its 2010 campaign, everything seemed be aligning just right for defender Brayden Volkenant.

He was, for the fourth year in a row, a starter on the Spartans back line. He was recently named the team captain. And he was only 128 minutes away from breaking the Spartans men’s soccer all-time record for minutes played, which at the time was held by Nick Perguini at 5026 minutes.

But then, as Volkenant believes, God gave him a wake-up call.

Ten minutes into the Spartans season opener against UBC, Volkenant went up for a standard issue header. But unfortunately, the Thunderbirds Jack Cubbon had the same idea and a collision course was set.

Volkenant’s head hit the ball and made the play but Cubbon’s head hit Volkenant’s face. Hard. And as it would turn out, the Spartans captain fractured his cheekbone in three places.

After trying to tough it out until the 25-minute mark, Volkenant went to the sidelines knowing it was something a little more serious than he had initially thought.

He went to the hospital that night and was told the recover period would be eight weeks. Or, the entire Canada West season.
And to think he was just 103 minute shy of the record.

“I’ve always been a bit of a stat keeper so I knew I was 100 or so minutes away from the record,” said the now fourth-year Volkenant, who was given injury red-shirt status last year. “I was in that game against UBC and I thought, one more game and I have it. But, sure enough, I got injured and I had to take the whole season off.

“It was a real humbling experience for me. I feel that God was asking me, ‘Why are you doing this? Are you doing it for yourself or are you doing it for me? Do you want to get the record so that people remember you in history or are you doing it to bring me glory?’”

This preseason, Volkenant returned to the pitch with the blue and yellow, promptly broke the record and, going into Friday’s game, has pushed the mark to 5373 minutes. It just happened to take nearly a year longer than he had envisioned.

“It was great to get in the preseason this year but it wasn’t on my timing and that’s what I learned,” Volkenant said. “God had a plan for me and when we’re in accordance with what he wants for us when we live our lives to the fullest.”

After deciding to take last fall off to work, doing construction – after which he said, “Nothing like a semester of construction to get you motivated to get back into school.” – Volkenant returned in the spring and is now back in a playing capacity and doing his best to heed the lessons learned from last fall.

“Playing soccer is all just worship to him,” Volkenant said. “It really takes the pressure off when you think about things that way. You’re just going out there to try and honour him and play the best you can.”

As the armband wearer on this team, his refocused energy, which had him working out this summer as hard as he ever has, has been a great boon for the Spartans.

He’s played all 180 minutes of the season thus far and added a little sandpaper on the back line that wasn’t there last year. As TWU coach Pat Rohla says of the former U18 Canadian national team member, “He’s a real Spartan.”

“He leads off the field as well as on the field,” Rohla added. “He brings a bit of bristle that we missed last year in terms of tackling and he makes a lot of timely plays in the back.

“He has a calm demeanor. He’s sensible and bright. He thinks things through. In a lot ways he’s very measured in what he says and what he does.”

Now, he’s back as the team’s captain. He’s once again starting on the back line. And he’s the all-time Spartans men’s soccer minute-muncher. He just knows it’s God who controls the stopwatch.


Last Updated: 2011-09-16
Author: Mark Janzen