Sam Taylor-Parks is living out his boyhood dream after signing a professional contract with Sodertelge Volleybollklubb, a team in Sweden’s elite division. Beforehand, he played five years at TRU, completing his final season in the March of 2020. The 6”8’ Middle started each game for the Wolfpack.
“I had always hoped to play overseas – it was not until my last two years at TRU that my coach Pat Hennelly, and my family, began encouraging me to investigate different agencies that would help me to get overseas into various pro leagues,” Taylor-Parks said. “My agent reached out to different teams in different leagues. I had actually signed to a team in Austria, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was unable to gain entry into Austria.”
Fortunately, Taylor-Parks managed to get in contact with his team in Sweden who needed a player in his position.
A contract was swiftly negotiated following the review of his sharp game tapes. Taylor-Parks is now settling in the club’s small-town atmosphere located outside of Stockholm.
“The culture of Sweden is not drastically different from Canada, so I didn’t get any major culture shock. Everyone here has been very welcoming,” Taylor-Parks said, adding, “The style of play is also similar to Canada. The team I am on is very young, so it is like a university setting with different ages on the team.”
In favour of a comfortable transition, many people in Sweden speak good English, so he is able to communicate fairly easily with the locals.
As it all came together within a week, Taylor-Parks admitted he tried not to overthink the abrupt pace of change as it was simply something he has always wanted for himself.
“I always planned on playing professionally, but I never realized that it would actually happen. I am very grateful for the opportunity that I have been given. I feel very fortunate that I am able to travel the world playing a sport that I love,” he said.
The networking with both TRU coaches and various sports agents proves that the dream of professional sport is not as elusive as we think.
Taylor-Parks accounts for his success in building up the courage to connect with agents to link him to various teams. When the contract was fatefully signed, he was Europe bound two days later.
Incidentally, Taylor-Parks is not the only former Wolfpack Alumni from men’s volleyball to play overseas as he is joined by Josh Mullaney and Kyle Beheils who are playing in Denmark and Luxembourg.
The pipeline of players transitioning into a professional playing career after schooling is becoming more and more popular among Wolfpack athletes.
The idea of dropping everything within the week to fly across the world and follow your dream is a beautiful display of bravery and determination.
Taylor-Parks is an inspiration to other athletes who are looking to play pro. His story is an example of how possible it is to play professionally once you start to network and build connections.