Between school, sports, 4-H and everything else in her life, there’s never a dull moment for Chemainus’ Danielle Groenendijk.
The Duncan Christian School grad, youngest daughter of Chris and Henrietta Groenendijk’s famous clan on Mount Sicker Road, even tied the knot this summer on July 23.
And just for something completely different, she got married to Ben Westwood at the Groenendijk family farm. She will eventually be changing her name to Westwood, but there hasn’t been time just yet.
That’s because of instead of immediately settling down into married life, Groenendijk is now playing pro volleyball in Tromsø, Norway.
It’s a small world in volleyball and she’s well-known from her days at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo playing for the women’s team as well as contacts her siblings have made in the sport.
”The coach, Vitor (Macedo), actually played for Camosun College for a couple of years and (brother) Doug had trained with him for a bit while he was in Canada,” noted Groenendijk. “Anyways, he has been coaching in Norway for a few years now and reached out late August to see if I would like to play for his team. Originally he didn’t have a spot for me as the team roster was full, but then many of the older/returning players suddenly left right before training for various reasons.”
She jumped at the chance and immediately started the visa process. By Sept. 13, Groenendijk and her new hubby arrived in Norway.
”A day after we arrived the team headed to Finland for a four-day training camp and playing games against a Finnish team,” she explained.
“After returning, we were able to get settled into our apartment and begin to adjust to our new lifestyle. It was an adjustment at the beginning learning how to live in a new country, especially when we don’t understand the language. Thankfully, most people know English and all the girls on the team are great at speaking it as well as my coach.”
The team practices Monday to Friday as well as having a weight program, Groenendijk added. Games are on Saturdays and Sundays.
“Usually if it’s a home game we just have one game a weekend but then for away games we play Saturday and Sunday against two different teams,” she indicated. “Since we are so far north in the Arctic circle and the sun doesn’t come up for 6+ weeks in the winter, we have to fly to all our away games so they coordinate that we play closer teams in the same weekend. It’s been a great way to travel all around Norway!”
Groenendijk has a contract for one season that concludes around late March/early April.
”Since the team is so new due to the older/returning players leaving, it is quite a young team and we have a lot of development,” she pointed out. “This year is more of a developing year and re-building the program.”
The team recently played in the European Cup in Montenegro, going 0-3 both days against OK Herceg Novi, but Groenendijk said it was a great experience and an opportunity for the players to challenge themselves and try new things.
She is concentrating entirely on volleyball for now and Ben has found a job working as a mechanic for a local construction company.
Groenendijk isn’t sure what the new year will bring for returning or playing for a different team abroad.
”I love playing for a new team and having the opportunity to be a leader for younger players,” she enthused. “Ben and I both love being able to explore more of the world and experience a different culture. We will see how the next few months go and go from there.”
During the Christmas break, they’ll be heading to Israel and Egypt.
”It will be different not being home for Christmas but we are excited to travel more and hopefully some of our family will visit us in January/February,” enthused Groenendijk.