Most kids dream of going pro at their favourite sport, imagining themselves playing at the highest level and being surrounded by the best of the best. For Evan Falardeau — a recent U of T graduate — this dream has become a reality as the Varsity Blues volleyball player signed with Porto Robur Costa, a professional team in Ravenna, Italy. 

Hailing from the charming town of Stratford, Ontario, just about two hours away from Toronto, Falardeau started playing volleyball around the age of 12 and has since fallen in love with the sport. 

From an outside perspective, it seems that Falardeau has lived a life only seen in movies — a small-town kid going to the city to conquer his dreams, excelling in academia and sports. However, just a short conversation with him will show that he achieved success at such a young age because of his passion, discipline, and innate ability to be humble. 

He also mentioned a bigger factor that appears to be the foundational component of his success: having a routine and sticking to it. “You do the same thing every day,” Falardeau said. “You go to the team room, go to practice, [and] just hang out in the team room with [your] friends every day.” 

Most people will agree that being a student is already difficult. Add on other responsibilities such as regular practices and games on top of maintaining a good personal life, and one might go into shock just hearing about the kind of work it takes to maintain that kind of lifestyle. 

That was not the case for Falardeau — he’s the type of person that prefers to live a more structured lifestyle. He considers being able to spend time with his teammates while following a demanding yet extremely rewarding lifestyle to be one of the best parts of his university career. When asked about some of his favourite memories during his time at U of T, Falardeau reminisced on his senior game and nationals. 

Additionally, behind Falardeau’s triumphs lies a commendable coach — John Barrett, who taught him skills that he has used both on and off the court. “John has had a huge impact on me, and I don’t think I would be where I am or who I am today without him,” Falardeau said. “I think my coach really helped teach me personality skills and work ethic skills.” They have formed a remarkable bond, and Falardeau exhibited much respect and admiration for his former coach. 

Now that his time as a U of T student has come to an end, Falardeau is looking forward to focusing on his volleyball career and not having to worry about assignments. In his spare time, he has been learning Italian to create a smoother transition for him once he gets to Italy and hopes to learn more about the language once he gets settled there. 

Despite his remarkable achievements and accolades, Falardeau remains refreshingly humble. This past March, he received the MVP award from the Ontario University Athletics Committee. When asked how he feels about achieving so many milestones at such an early stage in his career, like the MVP award and the fresh new professional contract, he responded, “I was just super excited [about the pro deal]. Everything kinda fell into place and just worked out.” While there is no specific goal he has his eye on, he just wants to perform the best he can and hopefully win with his new team. 

During nationals, Falardeau met an agent that was able to help him get offers from different clubs in countries such as France and Italy. Falardeau had his heart set on playing in Italy. “I think that Italy is the place for volleyball,” Falardeau explained. Thankfully, with Porto Robur Costa, he will experience what it is like to play with the crème de la crème of volleyball. 

Another contributing factor to Falardeau’s decision to sign with Porto Robur Costa is that Barrett also played in Italy, making it a more special place for him due to the personal connection his coach has with the country.

Porto Robur Costa also focuses on player development, and this had a significant impact on Falardeau. He aims to focus on better developing his skills as a player and contributing more to the team’s success and his future endeavours. While it will be an adjustment for Falardeau to play at a higher level, he is excited to play in Italy and explore the city of Ravenna, where he will be staying for around eight to 10 months. He is looking forward to meeting new people and creating memories that he will cherish for the rest of his life.

In Falardeau’s story, people can find that anything can be accomplished with a combination of discipline, hard work, and humility. As he begins a new chapter in his life, the U of T community will forever support him and root for his success.