WHILE Queensland has been sweltering under sizzling temperatures, 25-year-old Tom Wheeler has been working up a sweat on the volleyball court more than 15,000km away in Rostock, Germany where the average temperature is closer to a very chilly 4 degrees.
The former student of Ipswich Grammar is in his first season playing semi-professional volleyball for German club SV. Warnemünde, on the north east coast of Germany.
He’s off to a flying start with his new team currently second in the league and he was named Man of the Match in their biggest win of the season in December.
For Wheeler it’s a great reward after more than 12 years he has devoted to the sport since starting to play at Ipswich Grammar in Grade 7, at the urging of the schools’ volleyball coach at the time. It was a leap of faith for Wheeler as he was already an accomplished cricketer.
“I had to choose between playing cricket and volleyball and the allure of trying a new sport won,” he said.
Wheeler went on to be captain of Met West at the Queensland School Boy Championships where the team won gold and he was selected Most Valuable Player at the tournament, he captained Queensland’s team at the U19 Australian Volleyball championships in 2016 and was selected for the Australian U20 and U23 Volleyball teams at Asian championships in 2016 and 2019.
Wheeler played college volleyball in Canada where he broke the all-time blocks record for the Alberta Colleges Athletics Conference in his senior year, before being offered is contract to play for SV. Warnemünde.
Now he aims to continue to pursue a career in professional volleyball in Europe.
“Being able to have the opportunity to play at this level of volleyball is very rewarding. I would like to continue to play volleyball at a high level in Europe, for example in a higher standard league such as Division 1 in Germany, France, Italy or Sweden. I’d like to be able to play volleyball and not have to work another job on the side which I do at the moment to support myself while playing,” he said.