Aaron VanderBrink, a fourth year business major and Spartans volleyball player, has been asked to wear the #11 jersey in honour of Spartan player Jason Senechal who passed away unexpectedly in 2003 during a beach volleyball tournament. TWU had retired Senechal’s 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 Senechal’s values. It is considered the highest honour for a TWU volleyball player.
“It’s a huge honour to wear his number,” explained VandenBrink. “I wouldn’t say I understand who he was as a teammate, but I know he was a pretty incredible person.”
As well as a key player on the court, Senechal was a spiritual leader on the team, leading the squad’s bible study and prayer time. He was an active member in the community through outreach programs and by coaching in the Fraser Valley Volleyball Club (FVVC). Senechal also toured Thailand with Athletes in Action 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 many 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," says Josephson. "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 that playing through the pain is difficult, he also feels it has 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.”
Visit twu.ca/athletics to read more Spartans stories.
Trinity Western University, in Langley, B.C., is a provincially chartered, independent Christian liberal arts and sciences university, enrolling approximately 4000 students. TWU offers 42 undergraduate majors, ranging from biotechnology, education, theatre and music, to psychology, communications and biblical studies. TWU's 16 graduate degree programs include nursing, counseling psychology, marriage and family therapy, business, theology, linguistics, and leadership, and interdisciplinary degrees in English, philosophy and history. TWU holds Canada Research Chairs in Dead Sea Scroll Studies, Developmental Genetics and Disease, and Interpretation, Religion & Culture.
Last Updated: 2010-06-25