Off to a Good Start

In the wake of the Porec Major Series, Canada's most successful World Tour event ever (To date, hopefully we can start to make it a regular occurrence). I just wanted to give out my congratulations to the people who truly deserve it. So without further ado, congratulations to Jamie Broder, Kristina Valjas, Heather Bansley, Sarah Pavan, Josh Binstock, Sam Schachter, and Chaim Schalk on a great start to the 2015 FIVB beach season.

It's taken a lot of spent energy and spent dollars for each of us, but it seems to be serving us well. And a big thank you to everyone in each of our teams personal support bubbles. All of our personal coaches, trainers, families, friends and sponsors deserve a lot of praise as well for believing in us as we put our whole lives into such a lofty goal with little support but for you guys. It's still early in the season, and I don't speak for the other athletes, but I'm sure we are all looking to continue the trend.

Ben Jammin


Rewind, Play, Fast Forward

After a short (year and half) hiatus, I've decided to see if I've still got it. By "it" I don't mean the ability to write thought provoking, inspirational tales of wit and wisdom, but rather the ability to write anything legible and coherent. It's an ambitious goal, I realize, but I take a lot of plane rides with nothing better to do, so I think that means I've got what it takes, right?Since it's been so long since my last post, I'll give a brief synopsis of how the last year went, followed by a quick take of the Lucerne Open, then a short insight into what's to come. Brief + Quick + Short = Probably too much writing, but bear with me.

Last season we won some games and lost some others, yada yada yada, lots of training, and now here we are.

Too brief? Fine, here are the highlights:
- Chaim and I got our first FIVB podium with a Bronze at the Parana Open in Argentina
- We followed it up with Gold at the NORCECA Championships in Tobago
- Klagenfurt and Stavanger, two of the players favorite Grand Slams, returned to the FIVB World tour
- Went to see "Price is Right" live with a few other volley notables (see picture below)
- The Calgary Flames made the playoffs, and beat the Canucks in round 1
- I grew a playoff beard
- I shaved off the playoff beard

Lucerne was a little bittersweet, with an emphasis on the bitter. When I was younger, having to qualify week after week, 25th was a sign of progress, it meant I was winning a few games and getting to compete against the best teams for 2 or 3 extra matches per tournament. But these days, it's more of a motivator that more needs to be done to prevent future early exits. The city of Lucerne is a beautiful place and hosted a very nice, well run, tournament. I hope to come back in future years to better my own experience of it, but as a player so focused on one objective, the rest of the experience often gets clouded by a poor performance. The best way to look at it was that as Lucerne was our first event of the 2015 season, and so it was a good warm up for the Grand Slams coming up, and gave us a good idea of what fixes can be made before then.

Now on to what's to come. I'm not sure what is most notable about this year's FIVB season, but there are certainly plenty of developments, so I'll start by mentioning the FIVB Major Series. This will be comprised of 3 of this year's tour stops (Croatia, Norway, Switzerland) and then a season finale in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I still don't have all the information, but it's my understanding that Swatch and Red Bull will be the major sponsors and are looking to make all the events similar to Klagenfurt (aka, As big as it gets for beach volleyball). This is exciting news for the players and the fans alike, and hopefully big news for the sport itself to grow into something bigger.

The next big thing this season (and in my opinion, the most anticipated) is the FIVB World Championship being held in 4 cities in the Netherlands; den Hague, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Appeldorn. Worlds are always a big deal wherever they are held, and the Hague always puts on a good event, so I am really looking forward to early July. Chaim and I will be playing our pool play matches in the Hague, which this year will be played in a floating stadium in the heart of the city, just in case anyone happens to be in the neighborhood, it will be worth coming out to watch.

Finally, this season starts the Olympic qualification process. When the time comes, all eyes will be on the teams at the games, but it's the next two seasons that brings out the best in them. Everyone is ready to get the Grand Slams started and the season underway as we all battle to make our way to Rio.

That's all I've got for now, next week we'll head to Norway to train with Horrem/Eithun, and other athletes around their training facilities, and then to Moscow for the first Grand Slam or the season. I'll try to write another blog or two in weeks to come, but no guarantees.

Ben Jammin



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