Social media has made everything so accessible over recent years. There's so much easy access to everything you could ever want to know about every team, player, coach, mascot, ballboy, etc. Through all the networks you can fairly easily interact with and follow almost any athlete in any sport worldwide (As long as you can hack the great firewall of China) and vice versa, athletes are able to keep in touch with friends and family back home and keep updated with the goings on in the "real world".

Even a bum like me can have a fan page, and several means of communicating with those interested in my Beach Volleyball journey. It's so different from even a few years ago, when the only news you could get about the tour was months later in the latest issue of DiG magazine. Nowadays, though it's still not as popular as the big 4 sports in North America (Hockey, Basketball, Football, and Baseball) or other sports that have been easy access through TV forever, people can still be informed about Beach. You can watch streamed matches live from across the world, check scores via tournament websites, comment on your favorite player's Facebook group page, hashtag each event on Twitter. Sure you're still not going to see that many World Tour caliber games on your big screen (aside from the Olympics every 4 years) until the sport grows more in popularity, but there are ways to get involved in the game like never before.

All the social networks have gotten so involved in sport in general that last year, London was called the first "Twitter Olympics". People at home had more opportunity to be involved with the games than ever before. Even though I didn't get the chance to be there myself, I was able to send my words of motivation to those of my friends who did, and got to hear back with their words of thanks afterwards. It made me feel like I was at least somewhat part of it, even though not quite in the way that I wanted.

I for one, enjoy being able to so easily share my successes (not so much my failures), and being able to draw from the support of everyone following the experience. It's been kind of cool being able to gauge the excitement of people back home who followed our success at World Championships, and likewise it helped soften the blow seeing the words of encouragement after our recent hiccup in Berlin. I look forward to all the things I'll get to read from everyone next week in Moscow.

Ben Jammin


Big Things

So some things have happened since the last time I wrote a blog. I've traveled a to a few more countries, jumped a few thousand more times, and aged a few months. A few notable things, Chaim and I finally figured out how to qualify, and how to win third sets from time to time. Here in Gstaad will be our fourth straight Main Draw appearance. Also, we took a 5th at the World Championships last week in Poland, which was kind of fun. I guess. (Even though I was robbed for the blocking title, they gave 2 of my blocks in the quarter to Chaim which would have tied me for the lead with the best ratio. Look it up)

Ok, it was a blast. We're finally starting to get some big wins, by making big plays, at big moments, under big amounts of stress, watched by big crowds, in big venues, against big players, .....etc. Only thing bigger would have been if we could have won a few more matches near the end, but it's a start. It was big enough, however, for me to think "Hmm, I should maybe write a blog or something." And here we are. (Also, someone's gotta challenge Ryan Doherty's claim to being the world's greatest blogger. ryan-doherty.com - I actually strongly recommend it, it might be a true claim)(PPS - He speaks pretty well of me in one of his recent blogs, so how could I not endorse?)

One of the best parts of the whole ordeal was the mass congratulations from friends, family, and everyone else who contacted me via Facebook, Twitter, E-mail, and any other means you can think of. My advice to all of you: Don't ever stop. The next best thing to actually winning the important matches, is being able to come home and read about how everyone back home is just as excited living vicariously through us.

Something else that always makes me smile (though sometimes time consuming) is being swarmed by all the local fans post match. When I was younger and first started playing internationally in the youth events, my dad advised me to never deny someone an autograph. I don't know if I ever will. I don't exactly crave the attention, but I love to see how excited people get over a simple picture with me, or to have a scribble on a piece of paper. How could you ever pass up on making even one person's day, never mind an entire crowd.

And now we come to Gstaad. Slightly smaller stakes, but no less difficult. There's no such thing as an easy tournament on tour, so it's immediately back to grind. Always pushing to improve on the week before. Such is life on the FIVB World Tour.

Ben Jammin


Do the Shuffle

After another lengthy blog drought, I'm back on the keyboard to share a bit of what's happened around Ben town in recent months. I'll try to keep it quick.

First of all, once the season ended, so did almost all the men's partnerships. The women's teams as have stayed pretty consistent, as far as I've heard, but us guys all did the partner shuffle. From the top 4 Canadian teams, came 4 new pairings from the same 8 guys. They are as follows: Josh Binstock and Maverick Hatch, Sam Schachter and Martin Reader, Christian Redmann and Matt Zbyszewski, and finally, Chaim Schalk and myself. I can't speak for the other teams (you'll have to ask them yourselves) but I'm excited to see where things go from here.

Chaim and I have already played one NORCECA, and took home the Gold in Chula Vista, California. It was a great way to see what we were capable of, and played a big part in my decision to play with him, as I'm sure it played into his decision likewise. It will certainly be an interesting coming season, because Chaim, like anyone, has his own unique skill set that I thing will coincide very well with my own, and as a fellow Alberta native, he's obviously good people.

The second bit of news is that they've announce the dates for a new World Cup tournament to be held in Brazil this coming January. The event will host 10 men's and 10 women's teams. One from each country that won their respective Continental Cup Championships (Which Canada did for both men and women this past year in Mexico), and each country that qualified the maximum 2 teams through the top 16 for the Olympics. There will be no FIVB points awarded, but there is a chance at some good competition and a solid payout. For Canada, the women's team attending the tournament will be Heather and Liz, currently the highest ranked team. For the men it gets a little screwy.

We're having another trials. Since both Christian and I, and Josh and Martin split up after last season, they've decided a trials between all 4 teams is the fairest option. Had all partnerships stayed together, Christian and I would have gone as the highest ranked team. However, VC doesn't want to send a team that will not be playing together in the future (which in all honesty makes perfect sense to me). It's not really comparable to the last trials I went to, considering this is a couple offseason matches leading up to an offseason tournament worth no points, but Chaim and I will be motivated nonetheless because every match is as important as we make it.

Finally, it's November, so I'm growing a mustache! Not so impressive, I know, because every man who can does it, and even men who can't give it a good old fashioned try. But this year I'm actually going to try to contribute to the cause by raising money and awareness towards men's health issues like prostate and testicular cancer. To do so I've registered with the Movember Canada website. They post all the details and the issues and ways to help, and all I have to do is grow a mustache, post pictures, and try to raise a buck or two. You can visit my page at http://mobro.co/bensax

Anyway, that's what has happened and is happening in the world of Ben Jammin, I tried to make it quick, just didn't quite work.

Ben Jammin