The Evolution of Ben Jammin - Part II

As promised, some pictures of el Gordo, courtesy of my mom. I’m not sure if I’ve gained a pound since then. Now let’s get on with the story.

We rejoin our hero on the brink of adolescence. At 10 years old, I began to play volleyball. It was inevitable. My parents are both ex Indoor National Team members, who own and operate the Volleydome in Calgary, a facility dedicated to the sport. I was bred to play and for the last decade I haven’t stopped. I played indoor over the fall, winter and early spring, and beach filled in the remainder. By the time I hit 17, beach was already my favourite of the two.

High School had its ups and downs. I kept my head over water in great thanks to varsity athletics. My grades were never in any danger. It was my sanity that the sports kept in check. I often wish I could still play them all. Basketball in particular brings back some very fond, very competitive memories. High school basketball fell in line with club volleyball, which meant I missed a fair number of bball practices. Thankfully my coached valued my athleticism, sometimes calling on me to play as much as 38 out of 40 minutes per game. But as much as I miss that game, I don’t regret forgoing it for this game. Except maybe during March Madness, because I would have loved to have a shot at that.

By the end of high school I had already had my first few tastes of international play. In the summers of 2005 and 2006, then partner Will Pasieka and I played first in St. Quay Portrieux, France, then Bermuda at the U19 Beach Volleyball World Championships. We earned little success, neither year making the playoffs, finishing in 19th place both year. I also got a taste of the indoor junior NORCECA Championship game. I tried out, and made the squad as a leftside, but when an unfortunate illness came over libero Steve Kung, I was put to the task of replacing him until he recovered. It was the first and only time I ever played libero. We won the bronze, so I cant have been all that bad.

Then came the University of Alberta. Its a whole other lifestyle. I was immediately living on my own, having to manage my own meals, course schedule with practice and game times, roommates, free time, etc. I recommend that everyone experience it at some point if you haven’t already. To this day I fall back on KD for lunches, with a few hot dogs or a can of tuna added, dinners. Outside of the kitchen, as a Golden Bear, I had an advantage. Being on the team gave an immediate close circle of friends. Most of whom had already been living the life for a few years, and didn’t hesitate to show us the ropes for balancing the stresses of school and university volleyball. Even if “the ropes” constituted a lot of partying whenever possible, I still consider it an advantage. Since it led to 2 National Golds and one Silver, I can't really complain (not that I intended to).

Just before my 18th birthday, I was invited to the National Beach Volleyball ID Camp. The thing I remember most is not the camp itself, but the heated PVB forum debate over whether or not I deserved to be there. I wish I could track down the thread to let everyone read for themselves the controversy that one little name caused. But whether I deserved to be at the tryout or not, I am where I am, and I no longer hear of anyone saying I'm out of my league.

And the rest is history. I know this half of the story was a lot more volleyball related, but once I started playing, I didn't stop. It consumed my life then, and continues to do so now. So what makes me who I am? You've got the rundown now, you tell me.


Ben Jammin

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