Volleyball champ urge students to "Never Stop Learning!"

by Adrian Enns and Warren Neufeld
Garden Valley Collegiate
Winkler, Manitoba

Keith Sanheim is currently ranked as one of the best volleyball players in Canada. No, he isn't a "Superman." He is an ordinary guy from a small school in Manitoba, but he has lived in Germany, France, Japan, and Italy.

He has played volleyball at the Pan-Am Games in Cuba, the World Championships, and various world tournaments. He has just finished competing in the World Championships in Italy, and recently took "time-out" to answer some questions for SNN.

Sanheim reports that in school he played each and every sport that he could, from unorganized pickup baseball, road hockey and football to the more organized games of baseball and soccer. In high school, he had some good coaches, and some bad ones, some that he knew more than and some that he knew less. But he loved any sport game and whatever he thought of a given coach, he never thought of quitting.

Sanheim recalls that he kept up with and surpassed other players of his age and ability because he had "the desire to be the best." He accepted every bit of advice from his coaches, fellow players, and friends, and he used it to become better. As a young athlete, he continually watched other players, and then tried to copy successfully what they did in those situations.

"Never stop learning," Sanheim advises. "Even when you think you know everything about one game, you don't. You have to listen and learn all the time.

Sanheim played on as many teams as he could, which continuously gave him exposure to higher elements on volleyball. He had better players to play with and better coaches to learn from. He attended a University of Winnipeg volleyball camp, where he was noticed by Randy Anderson, the Technical Director for the Manitoba Volleyball Association. Anderson encouraged Sanheim to try out for the Midget Provincial Team. His persistence paid off and he made the team.

"Take advantage of every opportunity," Sanheim says, "because you make more opportunities that way."

While at the University of Manitoba, Sanheim got to play in Juvenile and Junior National Championships, which allowed him to be seen by national team coaches. He was invited to tryouts for the Developmental National Team. While playing three years at U of M, Sanheim also played on the Developmental team in Calgary during the summers. He went on to make the
national team, which gave him exposure to volleyball in other countries. He was even offered an opportunity to play volleyball professionally in Europe.

During the off-season, Sanheim lifts weights and runs or rides his bike about three times a week. If he does weights in the morning, then he will practice in the evening.

"Before the pro season," he says, "we were lifting weights two times a week and training in the evening on those days, and two times every other day, including Saturday. We had only Sunday off."

Sanheim has spent much of his life practicing and playing volleyball. It was hard when all of his close friends would go to the beach or a family cottage and he would be in a hot gymnasium, but he didn't think twice about it.

"I enjoyed what I was doing so much that I was willing to do that," he says. "I trained for three summers in Calgary, away from most family and friends."

Sanheim speaks from years of experience when he says to young athletes: "You have to believe in yourself, and know that you have the ability to do things regardless of the circumstances."

Exposure helps sports people recognize the ability of a young athlete. High school students can send videotapes to university coaches and attend university sports camps, but Sanheim believes the real keys to sports success is training as hard as one can and being confident of one's abilities.
"Nothing worth achieving comes easily or without sacrifice," he says.



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