Bahamian professional volleyball player Shonari Hepburn recently signed a contract to take his talents to Estonia, playing for Barrus Võru Võrkpalliklubi in the Estonia League, the top volleyball league in that country.
Hepburn, who is entering his eighth professional season, didn’t have to scratch his head as signing with Võru was an easy decision after his former coach Oliver Lüütsepp reached out to him. He played for him in the 2018-2019 season for Akaa-Volley Club. That was in Hepburn’s third season as a professional.
“I took longer than I normally do to sign because I just wanted to make sure that I was making the right decision as to where I played this season,” said Hepburn. “There were some offers to return to Greece, but I just played the long game and I waited and a coach I had from when I played in Finland, he now coaches this team in Estonia and he reached out to me and immediately we got to work on making it happen because we worked well together in Finland. I know the type of environment that I’m going to be working in so I’m excited for this season.”
The middle blocker spent last season in Romania playing for Știința Explorări Baia Mare in the Romanian Divizia A1. They finished seventh last season with an 11-11 win/loss record.
“Individually, I just want to try to be the best middle in the league. My goal is to go and get better every season. As for team goals, I know this coach and I know that he’s all about winning. The team finished third last season, so I know his goal is going to be to win it all. That’s always my goal anywhere that I go – to win,” Hepburn said.
Usually when Hepburn comes home in the offseason, he does not get to play much, but this offseason was different as he was able to get in some match play in the Bahamas Games and then he played for The Bahamas senior men’s national team at the 18th Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) Senior Volleyball Championships in Suriname last month.
“Playing for The Bahamas was good. It was definitely exciting playing for the national team for the first time in five years. It also helped that we had some summer ball to play before going back overseas,” he said. “It was a good experience. I had a good tournament individually, playing for The Bahamas. I missed out on best server and one of the best middle spikers by a few points. I guess I had a breakout tournament in terms of production on the court and leadership off the court.
“It was fun playing in the Bahamas Games. At first I wasn’t sure what it was going to be. I wasn’t really super excited to play, but after the first day of competition and seeing everybody come out seeing who was playing, who was suiting up and who was there, it was great to be a part of it. It was exciting to see volleyball being played at that level again at home. I just hope that people stick with the sport and just start to revive it.”
The 30-year-old spoke about his ability to play for such a long time, about staying healthy and instead of worrying about how high he could jump or how hard he can hit the ball, to just go out there and play. He said it is something he learned early on in his career from his coaches. For now, he said he will be focusing on the little things that will keep him on the court for long periods of time.