The Van-Dwelling Professional Athlete

Photos by Katherine Williams 

Daniel Norris is not your typical professional athlete. You won't find him taking luxurious vacations or living in a million-dollar mansion--in fact, quite the opposite. Daniel Norris of the Toronto Blue Jays lives in a van.

During the offseason, the professional baseball player resides in "Shaggy," an old VW van, and spends a lot of his time surfing and taking photos. He's also passionate about preserving the environment. We were lucky enough to get some time with him to ask a few questions about his life and travels.

What inspired you to buy a van to live in?
It's always been something of interest to me. I grew up in a simple lifestyle. I've never wanted to change. The laid back lifestyle of singer-songwriter surfer Jack Johnson has always been an inspiration to me. 

What’s an average day of Van Life consist of right now?
Mostly relaxing down by the water. Going for swims. If there is surf then I surf. Other than that I hang around hoping adventure finds me. Cooking is always a highlight of my day!

Do you a have top five list of necessities that you can’t live without?
In no order, good music, healthy food, my Bible, surfboard and a few baseballs... and coffee! That's six but it's all good. 

What are some of your favorite meals to cook up in the van?
Stir Fry is my go-to for lunch and dinner. Oatmeal and eggs in the morning. And obviously coffee, but that's more of a dessert.

Are there any big challenges that you’ve had to overcome on the road?
Definitely having to get a new starter in my journey to Florida a couple years ago. It's not an adventure until something goes wrong!

What’s your favorite destination that you’ve been to so far?
I went down to Nicaragua last year for surf. I'll be back. The place was unbelievable. Talk about living simply.

What is your most memorable experience traveling?
Maybe not the most memorable but it popped into my mind instantly. When I was in Nicaragua we had to fight off a couple guys stealing our surfboards out of our truck. It was seven of us against two of them so it was more of a drop-the-boards-and-beat-it type thing. Still crazy though.

Where do you see the van life going as your baseball career further develops?
It's only going to get more functional. I'm going to learn more and more about being sustainable and I can't wait to grow. 

For those interested in the Van Life, what advice would you give them?
In everything you do, keep it simple. Especially packing. You're going to want as much space as possible. I literally have two or three shirts. One pair of jeans. Board shorts. Plus warm shells for when it's cold. If you get frustrated just think about how beautiful your surroundings are. 

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