It has taken 18 months, but Dustin Schneider finally feels completely healthy.
Last year, the 28-year-old Brandonite rushed back to the volleyball court to play with the Canadian men’s volleyball team at the FIVB Volleyball World League, not giving his right knee enough time to properly heal from micro-fracture surgery.
Schneider’s decision helped Canada finish 12th in the prestigious event, but the after-effects kept him from playing professionally during this winter to give himself time to heal.
As a result, he stayed at the national volleyball training centre in Gatineau, Que., to rehabilitate his knee and practise there instead of heading overseas after Christmas.
“It was and it wasn’t (a hard decision),” Schneider said. “I don’t want to be plagued by this anymore, so I wanted to put it behind me and make sure that I’m 100 per cent.
“If I go over there and start playing and don’t have as good physiotherapy or doctors that I have here in Canada, then there was more of a chance that I could relapse and I didn’t want to deal with that. I think I made the right decision.”
Because he stayed in Canada, the 6-foot-0, 180-pound former CIS all-Canadian setter, who played five seasons with the University of Winnipeg Wesmen, believes he’s completely healthy now and ready to play full time for the national team during its summer program.
Canada’s finish at the Volleyball World League last year was good enough to secure a spot at it again this year, and Schneider has much higher expectations for the national squad.
“We had some injuries last summer to myself and a few other guys at World League, and we still had a decent result,”said Schneider, a former starting setter and team captain with the national team. “We stayed in it and finished 12th. I think where we are now, we’d be disappointed if we did that again.
“I’d like to get us into the top eight. That would be a great finish for us and I think we’re capable of doing it.”
While a top-eight finish at the World League is possible, it will be very difficult. The field grew from 16 to 18 teams this year and Canada has been placed in a pool where only one team will qualify for the quarter-finals.
Schneider, however, will do anything he can to make his team’s goal becomes a reality when the competition begins in Quebec City on May 31.
“Now that I’m feeling 100 per cent again physically, I want to be on the court,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes. I’ll do whatever the team needs of me, but when I was feeling healthy, I was playing a lot with the national team and I don’t see why I shouldn’t be on the court a lot if I’m healthy.”
Other players who are at Canada’s volleyball training centre, like former Brandon University Bobcats middle Jon Sloane, are dreaming of making the national team and having a chance to play at the Olympics in four years, but that’s not the case with Schneider.
Instead, he’s focusing on the present and enjoying every moment he has with the national team.
“Making the Olympics will be the goal of the four-year plan, but we’re in the World League now,” said Schneider, who was named tournament MVP at the 2008 CIS national championship. “We can have more goals every year. I think if we just look ahead to that, we’re going to miss a lot of fun stuff along the way.”
The national team program also features Rivers’ Toon Van Lankvelt, who is playing professionally overseas in Nantes, France this season. Russell native and former BU Bobcat Kevin Miller left the program last summer to pursue a career as a police officer in Winnipeg.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 12, 2013