Veteran middle finishing off where he started
Blake Proudfoot’s volleyball career has made it “full-circle.” The fifth-year veteran middle is finishing up where he started at Briercrest in 2001-02, but there has been a lot of adventure at different places in between.
<strong>A family thing</strong>
Proudfoot grew up in Chinook, AB, where he was raised by parents Eric and Janet, and grew up the oldest of four siblings. Athletics was a big deal in the Proudfoot family, as everybody was involved.
“My dad played college basketball and coached all of us kids in elementary, junior high and high school,” said Proudfoot. “I'm extremely thankful for my parent’s involvement that way.”
The eldest brother cherished the opportunity to be on the same teams as his younger brother Tim. “A huge blessing was playing with my brother all the way through and I only wish I could have played college with him.” Proudfoot notes that his younger sisters are both great athletes as well.
<strong>Experience and influence</strong>
Along with his dad, Proudfoot credits his junior high and high school coaches for their influence in his development early on.
“My junior high coach Rob Burzminski who saw something in a 6'4”, uncoordinated 14 year old and encouraged me more than he will ever realize. My high school coach Allan Stober who is one of the best out there.”
Proudfoot started his post-secondary career at Briercrest in the 2001-02 season.
“I came the first time for Bible school primarily and because I knew I would be playing in an elite league here.”
During that time, Proudfoot had the opportunity to travel on a mission trip with Athletes In Action, with a group of CCAA and CIS volleyball players to play against university teams and the Thai national team. That trip stands out as one of his most memorable moments with the sport.
“Starting on that team, with a bunch of guys older than me, and beating the Thai national team was something I won't forget . . . Probably the most talented team I have been on till coming back here this year.”
Proudfoot then signed on with the University of Regina for the 2003-04 season. That year he suffered a season-ending knee injury early on and ended up taking the following year off of volleyball. Proudfoot got back into it for the 2007-08 season, as he suited up for the Lakeland College Rustlers, where he was coached by Paul Armbruster who he sees as not only a coach, but a friend and key influencer in his life.
“My friend Paul Armbruster is an example to me as much in his faith as he is in the sport.”
From there, he felt called back to Briercrest to finish up the BA in Christian Ministry degree he originally started, but had no plans to continue playing ACAC volleyball.
“I came back to coach the high school and for the experience of being around the leaders of this institution, to glean as much from their wisdom and experience as I could.”
Proudfoot took on the role of head coach for the Caronport High School girls volleyball team and assistant coach for the girls basketball team for the 2009-10 season.
<strong>Coming full circle</strong>
After losing a key piece with fifth-year middle Mike Haasdyk graduating last year, Coach Nigel Mullan was looking for a capable replacement. With Proudfoot being on campus already, the two started talking about the possibility. They came to an agreement that it was the right time for Proudfoot to lace up again, and finish off his career. Proudfoot has found the experiencing refreshing.
“Nigel’s innovation has helped me to see the game at a new level and I have tremendous respect for him.”
This has been the best year of Proudfoot’s volleyball career and possibly of his life, seeing as how he was recently engaged to his fiancé, Bailey, over the Christmas break. As he looks towards graduation in April, the 6’ 5” middle hopes it just keeps getting better. “My next few months are composed of doing everything I can to put two banners on the gym wall and to plan a wedding.”
“My whole volleyball career has seemed like a detour,” Proudfoot says with a laugh, “but the solution has seemed to be to come back to Briercrest where my collegiate career began.”