January 30, 2005: Headlines: COS - Ghana: Sports: Track and Field: The Grand Rapids Press: Ghana RPCV Rudy Vlaardingerbroek was a track man for 43 years

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ghana: Peace Corps Ghana : The Peace Corps in Ghana: January 30, 2005: Headlines: COS - Ghana: Sports: Track and Field: The Grand Rapids Press: Ghana RPCV Rudy Vlaardingerbroek was a track man for 43 years

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-48-182.balt.east.verizon.net - 151.196.48.182) on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 7:04 pm: Edit Post

Ghana RPCV Rudy Vlaardingerbroek was a track man for 43 years

Ghana RPCV Rudy Vlaardingerbroek was a track man for 43 years

Ghana RPCV Rudy Vlaardingerbroek was a track man for 43 years

Numbers always turned up first for Rudy V
Sunday, January 30, 2005
By Scott Scholten

Assistant Sports Editor

Which is the greater number for Rudy Vlaardingerbroek?

A. Languages in which he is somewhat fluent.

B. Track and field championships.

C. Letters in his last name.

The correct answer is probably B. But it's close.

The personable Vlaardingerbroek sometimes refers to himself as Rudy V-plus-15 to shorten his moniker.

"It's really not as bad as it looks," he said. "It's only four syllables. But my wife was a Metzger before she married me. That was a bit of an adjustment."

He has studied and spoken 10 languages -- German, Dutch, Spanish, Russian, French, Latin, Greek, English and two of the approximately 2,000 dialects spoken in Africa (Ewe and Hausa). His vast linguistics exposure comes from his background and studies.

He was born in The Netherlands and moved to Canada before coming to Calvin. Then he spent three years in the Peace Corps, serving in Ghana, and also studied language at a summer institute at Gordon College in Massachusetts.

Many accomplishments

But his track triumphs are almost too numerous to count. They include a brilliant career at Calvin, competition in Africa during his Peace Corps service and participation in AAU meets until November, 2003.

"I was a track man for 43 years and a UPS delivery man for 26 years, and one day my knee just collapsed," said Vlaardingerbroek. "I think all those twists in the field events and all those twists delivering packages took their toll. It's better now, but it was time."

Earlier in 2003, before his retirement, Vlaardingerbroek experienced what he calls one of the highlights in his track career when he competed in his specialty, the javelin, with his two sons at an AAU meet.

"We had never competed together," he said. "That was a great thing. I had taught them how to throw, just in case they wanted to do it."

In addition to competing, Vlaardingerbroek helped organize a fun run and a masters meet for many years in the Naples, Fla., area, with some notable help.

"Al Oerter (four-time Olympic champion) ran the discus for me," he said, "and we had a lot of people enter those meets just to meet Al."

Retired Calvin track coach and athletic director Dave Tuuk remembers that "Rudy, in my estimation, was one of the greatest athletes track and field athletes I've ever been involved with. It is just a shame he never was able to compete in the decathlon, because he often ran five or six events for us."

Tuuk also remembers some other athletic exploits.

"Rudy was a powerful swimmer, and he was so strong he could walk up and down the steps in the dorm on his hands," he said.

"He injured his shoulder once doing that, but it was his left shoulder and he was grateful that such a foolish thing didn't affect him."

Peace Corps helped

Vlaardingerbroek's Peace Corps stint heightened his track accomplishments -- and his love of warm weather.

"While I was in Ghana, I was invited to compete in their national track meet," he said. "I said, 'Sure, if you don't mind.'

"I won the javelin championship and I got a hero's welcome and front page news stories when I returned to the village where I was working."

Living in that climate prompted him to seek warmth to live and work.

"I plan to keep working a few more years," he said. "I feel good yet. I was off work once for about five consecutive weeks, and I was so bored. I don't think I'll like retirement.

"I told my wife I'm going to have to find something to do."


© 2005 Grand Rapids Press. Used with permission





When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: The Grand Rapids Press

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ghana; Sports; Track and Field

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By Nicholas Blankson (69.171.176.62) on Sunday, May 09, 2010 - 11:06 pm: Edit Post

My name is Nicholas Blankson,from Ghana(Winneba)Rudy as been my friend the very first time he stepped the soil of Ghana from Accra to Winneba, I was then very young. It has taken me so many years to get intouch since I've been growing up. He was a Peace corp,first in Winneba and later stationed in Ho in the Volta Rigion of Ghana. Please kindly help me to see him again as a good citizen of America.


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