LANGLEY, British Columbia - When Trinity Western middle Dan Jansen Van Doorn arrived on the Langley campus in the fall of 2008, his name was already of the household variety.
Off the court, he was immediately known as Josh’s or Dayna’s or Kara’s younger brother and, on the court his last name was already renowned across the country with Dayna, and Kara both competing at a national level indoor and on the beach, respectively.
But now, in his fourth year as a Spartan, Dan has literally, out jumped all of his siblings and is making a name for himself across Canada on merit rather than just a family tree.
Since recommitting to his craft in the summer of 2010, Jansen Van Doorn has vaulted himself into rarified air amongst Spartans lore.
The 6-foot-8 Langley native currently holds the Spartans block touch record at 11-feet and is tied with Doug Van Spronsen for the spike touch record at 11-feet-9-inches. And yes, that means he has out-touched the likes of legendary Spartans middles Chris Meehan, Van Spronsen and Rudy Verhoeff.
“I changed my lifestyle a whole lot,” said Jansen Van Doorn about his career altering move two summers ago. “I changed my off-court habits and I got in the weight room. I just started to take it a lot more seriously. Then once I got a taste of life on the court I got a lot more motivated these past two and half years than I ever have.”
When Jansen Van Doorn came to Trinity Western, ahead of him on the depth chart were Verhoeff and Josh Doornenbal. So, barring injury or a rare substitution, Jansen Van Doorn didn’t see himself with much of a chance to hit the floor.
“I was the third middle and I was getting the best training but I saw it as they’re starting and I can’t beat them out and I might have become complacent,” Jansen Van Doorn recalled. “I saw it as a limitation. But as soon as the coach started talking about switching one of them to a wing hitting position I started to get it in gear.”
When he returned following the summer of 2010, he was a different player and with a few injuries to players and a shuffling of the lineup, suddenly he had fast-forwarded his career into a starting role.
He ended up starting in 19 of the 21 matches he played last year, he finished the regular season seventh in the conference in blocks with 1.18 per set, and he went on to collect 25 blocks in the national championship, including a game-high 13 against Alberta in an epic five-set quarter-final win.
And last season was simply the start of something big for the towering middle.
After helping the Spartans to a CIS championship gold medal, in his hometown no less, it didn’t take long for Jansen Van Doorn to get back in the gym and get refocused on what would be another critical summer of training.
Unlike many of his teammates who played for Canada’s FISU team or the junior national side this past summer, Jansen Van Doorn decided to take a break from volleyball.
But in no way did that mean he was taking a break from his preparation for the 2011-12 season.
Quite the opposite actually.
With middles like Lucas Van Berkel and Branden Schmidt training with the junior national side, Jansen Van Doorn knew he’d have to return this fall better than ever.
“I saw other players threatening my starting position, like Lucas and Branden, so I had to work way harder because I didn’t know how good they would be coming back,” Jansen Van Doorn said. “I had to assume they would return at their best so I had to eat right and just get big.
“Two summers ago I improved a lot so I set the bar pretty high in terms of improvement. So if I improved any less than that this year, it would look like I took the summer off.”
And improve he did.
This year he has started all five games and has averaged a team-leading and Canada West fifth best 1.24 blocks per set.
“Physically he’s the most dominant athlete we have on our team,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “He’s turned himself into maybe the most physical middle player in the country.”
And his hunger to get better is steadfast.
“I’ve set quantitative goals. I want to touch 12-feet on the spike touch. I want to be a renowned middle in the league.”
And if he stays on the improvement curve he’s been on of late, those achievements won’t be far off.
Despite growing up in a volleyball family where his backyard had a full size grass court and his cousin’s backyard had a beach court, Jansen Van Doorn really didn’t dominate in the sport until after his Grade 11 season.
“I was too lanky for volleyball so I was actually a pretty awful player until Grade 12,” he said.
During the summer leading up to Grade 12, he made Team B.C. and the following year he led his team to a near perfect 57-1 season at Langley Christian School. Unfortunately for Jansen Van Doorn, the one loss came against now fellow teammate John Wiebe’s MEI (Mennonite Educational Institute) in the title game at the provincial championship.
From there though, Jansen Van Doorn came to Trinity Western where he has taken his game, and as should be noted, his academics, to new heights. While improving his on court play, he also improved his grades as he has bumped what was once a GPA around 2.5 up to nearly 3.3.
“He figured if he’s going to be here, he’s going to try to be excellent in everything he does,” Josephson said about Jansen Van Doorn’s transformation. “And this last year he’s really stepped up even more into a leadership role.”
And as for his long-term plans? Well, there kind of like his short term goals.
Get better every day and see where this volleyball thing takes him, it that’s playing for a national side and/or playing professionally.
“I want to play as long as I can,” Jansen Van Doorn said. “I’m 6-foot-8 for a reason.”
Last Updated: 2011-11-30