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Howatson excited to come ‘home’
Spain, Turkey and France — those have been the countries Josh Howatson has lived since leaving Langley in 2007.
Howatson, who turns 29 soon, is excited about next week and the chance to play in front of family and friends.
This is the fourth year Howatson has been a setter on the Canadian senior men’s national volleyball team.
The team will be at the Langley Events Centre for the 2013 NORCECA men’s volleyball Continental championships, which begin Monday (Sept. 23) and runs until Sept. 28. They will be held in the LEC’s arena bowl.
And he is excited about playing on the west coast — this is the senior national team’s first visit since 2006.
“It is like coming home,” he said.
“I am anxious and excited; I have the butterflies going on.
“I never get to play in front of my family and friends.”
And while Howatson played his fair share of big games for the Trinity Western volleyball team — helping the program win CIS national championship in 2006, the first in the program’s history — he did so on the university’s campus at the David E. Enarson Gymnasium.
“I am a classic Spartan,” he said, with a laugh.
Howatson was speaking with The Times from Gatineau, Que., the main training centre for the national team.
Another former Spartan, Rudy Verhoeff is on the Canadian roster.
And while Howatson has spent the past four summers with the national team, he has made his living playing professionally in Europe, spending three years in Spain, a year in Turkey and then the past two in Paris.
Originally, Howatson figured he would spend five years playing pro, but following the Continental championships, he will head back to Turkey for his seventh season in Europe.
Growing up in Victoria, he never would have envisioned this.
“Every time I did well at one level, I thought about the next level,” he explained.
“But it was never a dream of mine to play in random leagues in Europe. It is not something every eight-year-old Canadian boy fantasizes about, but it has turned out to be pretty good.”
Playing professionally is great, but nothing compares to suiting up for your country, something Howatson has done for over a decade now, starting with Canada’s junior national team in 2002.
“It is way different (playing for your country) than playing pro,” he explained.
“In pro, you are a bit of a mercenary; they hire you out, you go play and then you leave.
“But playing for a national team is playing with a lot of pride, representing all of the volleyball players across Canada.”
He called playing for others a big motivator.
Spending his summers with Canada is not without sacrifice, especially considering the pro season runs from September to May and then national team tryouts are at the end of May.
“It is the best job I can think of, but it is also hard at times,” he admitted.
“That is my only complaint, and it is not very loud or vocal,” Howatson stressed.
One of the main challenges is being away from his wife, Katie, a former TWU basketball player.
While she is with him during the pro season in Europe, their summers are mostly spent apart.
It also means less time for Howatson to spend back in B.C. or in Portland, where his wife is from.