John Elgersma is a 6 foot 9 right side for Brock’s newly returned Men’s volleyball program. The fourth year medical science student is the first ever Brock student to receive the OUA rookie of the year award for Men’s Volleyball.
Elgersma grew up in the local area, starting his volleyball career in elementary school and moving his way up to play for Heritage Christian School in Jordan. The unique thing about this player is that outside of his elementary and secondary school teams (and playing in one men’s league) Elgersma never played anymore volleyball before his varsity career. Elgersma claims that volleyball was never even the sport that he focused on, as he much preferred to spend his time honing his soccer skills.
Elgersma found out about the return of the volleyball team to Brock through Facebook.
“The post said that after a 14 year hiatus the volleyball team was coming back and someone tagged me. The head coach went to my high school and talked to one of the coaches there. When he found out I go to Brock he called me and that’s when I decided to join the team,” said Elgersma.
Elgersma finished the year inside the top 10 in the OUA with a 0.35 service aces per set. When he was on the court, he was a dominant force and averaged 3.3 points per set, the 13th best mark in the conference. As dangerous at the net as he was from the service line, Elgersma ranked just inside the top 10 with 19 solo blocks this season, despite playing just 43 total sets.
“The motivation, why I played, was #PFGG. That’s a hashtag I made, and it means ‘Playing for God’s Glory’. That’s my story,” said Elgersma. He also credits his girlfriend, Tori Carroll, a member of Brock’s women’s volleyball team, with coming up with the hashtag.
The rookie is part of the Reformed Christian Faith and informed his coach that he could not play volleyball games that fell on Sunday’s due to his religious beliefs. In total, Elgersma missed four games but says that he felt incredibly supported by head coach Doug Hanes as well as his teammates.
“I’m dedicating that day to the Lord. Volleyball isn’t everything in life. My number one priority is to serve my God. Volleyball can be done six other days. God gave me this talent and because of him I played and it was amazing how good and respectful my teammates and coach were,” said Elgersma.
This empathy and support pervaded the dynamics on and off the volleyball court for the team. Because the program hasn’t run for the past 14 years there were no established hierarchies, traditions or expectations on the Men’s volleyball team.
“We’re all rookies together; we’re all on the same page. No one played before on this team and I don’t feel like I deserve this rookie of the year award because we were all rookies. People we played against didn’t expect much but we came to play and compete and that’s what we did this year. We came together and we wanted to prove them wrong,” said Elgersma.
All season long, Elgersma and the volleyball team did this very well by keeping the majority of their sets within five points and making their opponents battle for every point. However, one highlight game which embodies the underdog pathos referred to by Elgersma was when the Badgers took on the eighth ranked Guelph Gryphons in an away game.
“We were on fire in that game. Guelph didn’t come to play, they came and didn’t expect much from us.” said Elgersma. “Being at Guelph, I’ll never forget that game as long as I live. Our line was so solid and I wish we kept that going moving forward in the season. That was the highlight of the year not just because it was Guelph but going to brand new $60,000,000 complex and then beating them was surreal,” said Elgersma.
The rookie is extremely humble and takes little to no credit for his impressive accomplishments this past season. He attributes his aces to the help of the serving coach, believes that blocking isn’t difficult if your 6 foot 9 and dedicates his season as well as his talents to God.
“Sometimes I was on the left side and I’d swing from there quickly to get a point. The team would turn to me for a point but it’s important to know any time in the game you could turn to any player and they’d do it. I was used quite a bit and that’s why my stats are high,” said Elgersma.
Since the rookie is in his fourth year, he will not return for a sophomore season with the Badgers but instead will be traveling to the Caribbean to pursue medical school and hopefully become a doctor one day. Instead Elgersma highlights the big name recruits that are coming into the program and who will act as cornerstones for the volleyball team for years to come. Timmy Spisar is among one of the players who Elgersma believes will be a powerhouse for Brock in the years to come.
Overall, winning rookie of the year was somewhat of an anomaly for Elgersma because he truly believes his entire team who were all rookies deserved the award. “I feel very blessed but I was just one piece of the puzzle.”