Everyone wishes they could see the world, and people always tell me how lucky I am to be able to do just that. The reality of it is, I still wish I could see the world. Sure, I'm in a different city every week, but traveling as a tourist is one thing, as a beach volleyball player it's a whole different ball game. I know tourism isn't a ball game, but I'm sure you catch my drift.

Since we do all our training at home, those are the conditions we're used to, and those are the conditions we want to play in. Which means an all these trips we take, were not trying to experience how different their culture is. We just want to make it feel as much like home as possible. The most cultural things that we inevitably come across are the people, and the food. Especially pre-tournament. Afterwards there might be a little more time to be a good old fashioned tourist.

For example, this last week in Poland, two days before the tournament, Jessi, Josh Binstock, Matt Zbyscewski, Christian Redmann, and Rich Van Huizen didn't go hit the town and see all the crazy sights that Myslowice has to offer. Instead we went to a nice little restaurant, then thought about seeing a movie, but ended up going bowling instead. Essentially, something we might have done back home to have a little fun. Matty Z is quite a Big Lebowski by the way. Though he didn't have the pleasure of bowling a turkey like I did at the end.

Now that, literally, is a whole different ball game.


Ben Jammin


So Tired

I’m tired.

I’m often tired, but nothing compares to jetlag. Especially when I’m crammed in an airplane seat, making it a struggle to stay in one position, much less sleep to try to get adjusted. So now it’s about noon on Sunday in Toronto, and I have around 2 total hours of sleep since Saturday morning. Hence me being tired.

But I refuse to take a nap. I’ve got three days to get my internal clock adjusted, and no matter how heavy my eyelids get, I’m going to keep them from closing at all costs for another 5 hours or so. By any means necessary. Blogging will cut away some time, Dinner will eat away some more. I brought along the board game Settlers of Catan, so maybe that will take care of a good chunk of my evening. Hopefully I won’t have to resort to taping my eyes open, but I won’t rule it out just yet.

It doesn’t help that the only things in our hotel room are two beds and a bathroom. All it puts is sleeping on the mind. Kinda tough when the only thing I shouldn’t be doing is sawing logs. I’m actually surprised I’m awake enough to write about how asleep I want to be. Though the longer I wait to fall asleep, the less sleepy I become, since it's actually only about mid afternoon in Toronto.

Most of the guys on tour use Melatonin. A naturally occuring hormone, which your body automatically produces more of at night. The production of Melatonin is a little fragile though, as it is affected by changes in light and surrounding. Your body gets habituated to a regular sleep cycle producing less during daylight, and more when you sleep. So when you through of that regulated pattern, you produce Melatonin at the wrong times. This is the basic concept behind jetlag, so many people find taking Melatonin tablets helps them adapt sooner.

I don't use it. Or at least haven't yet. I'm still uncomfortable ingesting any sort of pills or powders. Even though Melatonin is already found in every human body, you never know how pills or powders were prepared. And I would hate to be kicked out of sport for popping a pill that I thought was good for me.

Fortunately, I tend to adapt pretty quickly to time changes on my own. Or at least I have to date, it's only the first day that's difficult. Let's hope adapting to Myslowice, Poland for our next event is no different.


Ben Jammin


2328 Danforth Ave.

Tonight, we move out. I can't say I'll miss the place too much, though the rent was cheap, and it isn't far from the beach. Our little 3 bedroom place situated directly on top of the Blue River House pub served its purpose over the fall and winter months. With a summer loaded with travel forthcoming, that purpose has now been fulfilled, and it's time for us to move on to bigger and better things.

Originally, we were expecting awesome adventures like the cast of modern day sitcom, How I Met Your Mother, who also live just above a pub. If a TV show can revolve around a group of people who go for a beer every night at McClaren's, then why can't we do the same at Blue River House, right? Well technically, I suppose we could have, and Harmand, the pub owner is a nice enough guy. It's just the area of town that sets us back. In the show, it seems their place is surrounded by babes. Instead, we deal with the sketchy, sometimes rowdy characters that occupy our block.

But like all places of residence, there were memories, both good and bad.

The Good:
-Getting free furniture from craigslist and friends to furnish the place
-Many random conversations with Harmand at our front door
-Countless Bruins vs. Flames best of 7 series's on NHL 10
-Attempts at cooking
-12 packs of Oreos for 10$
-Mario Parties
-Getting an exercise ball and foam roller that seldom got used
-Caleb and Adam Barthel, the Sailors
-2-4-1 Pizza being right next door

The Bad:
-Cold Nights
-Loud Nights
-Taking lots of critisism on my attempts at cooking
-The distance from our place to the airport
-Animosity between Chaim and Maverick. Particularly during volleyball or aforementioned NHL 10 games

The Ugly:
- My bedroom for the majority of the year

And thats just what I remember. But it's time to move on to bigger and better things. To make new memories, hopefully with more goods than bads, though it's possible wherever I live my room will always be ugly.




Making Changes

It appears that the schedule hasn't been followed very meticulously as of late. It's difficult to keep writing at the front of my mind when we're practicing twice a day. The more playing and practicing we do, the more other aspects of life seem to downgrade slightly. Sometimes you'll get home and all you want to do is sleep, never mind shopping, cleaning, or writing blogs. Unfortunately, that means I took you all out of the loop, so it's time to get my head back in the game. But I may have to alter the timetable a tad, bring it down to twice a week. There's only so much I can think to talk about in a week anyhow. And don't you all be afraid to yell at me if I miss a day, you won't hurt my feelings. much.

So what's the schedule? I haven't decided yet whether it will be a fixed schedule or not yet. I'll mostly just maintain at least two blogs per week. Yes, at least. So if I'm ever feeling it, I might even write and extra one. Or maybe two, but let's not get carried away. And how does that affect All Request Saturday? I will still answer any and all questions, but Ill answer then when I get them, so you no longer have to wait until Saturday to get the answers you seek.

Speaking of which, I think I'll answer a question that is overdue for an answer even by my old schedule. It's another from beach volleyball superfan, Jay Nutall. Thanks for the continued and everlasting support, Jay.
You already know the men's side of beach volleyball very well. What one or two key things from the women's side of the game might be of greatest advantage to you? - Jay Nuttall

I'm not sure if I've interpreted this quite how you meant me to, but here's my answer.
Number one has got to be bikinis. Milou, I know you might disagree, and you've written at least one paper arguing the FIVB clothing regulations, but bikinis do make a difference. There's a reason beach volleyball has been the most watched Olympic sport over the last few Olympic years. Yes, it is an exciting game to watch. The changes made to the ball, court size, and point system makes rallies longer, and the game faster paced. But when it comes down to it, a ton of people are watching because it's the hottest sport on earth, and I'm not talking about the temperature. If it were played by men and women in snowsuits, viewers would be much less likely to take a second look when passing through the channels. Plus, the fact that a bunch of scantily clad, athletically built women will be at all of our tournaments doesn't hurt in terms of incentive.

How does that help me? Publicity never hurts. The more people who get follow the sport, the more sponsors want to get involved to those same people are watching them too. The more sponsors interested in beach volleyball as a sport, the more opportunities there are for athletes, male and female alike, to get sponsorship dollars. In Canada, where much of the travel and housing costs comes out of pocket, every dollar counts.

I guess now is as good a time as any to mention and, more importantly, to thank all my current sponsors. Links to their sites can all be found on the right side of my blog. So thank you to the Volleydome, Overkill, Canuck Stuff, Volleyballstuff.net, and finally Volleyball Canada. If I'm forgetting anyone, let me know, I'll be sure to get your name up here.

Be sure to check for the next book in Benny's Book Club tomorrow, as for today, that's all I've got.


Ben Jammin


I'm Ba-ack

After a week long Hiatus, I have returned to the silver screen. or at least the LCD Screen. China was a difficult place to blog from due to the nation wide ban on mass communication sites. But thanks to a 19 hour trip back to Canada, and then a 4 hour flight back home to Calgary, I'm back to free speech, and full blogging capacity.

What? You had no idea I was coming back to Calgary?
Well first of all, it isn't for long, just a few days, then I head back to Toronto for some pre-Poland training. Second, I didn't know know myself until Tuesday evening after being eliminated from the qualifier. Losing hit me hard, home sickness set in a little, and I decided its time for a little break to clear my head a little. Its the first chance I've had to come home since the Christmas holidays, and what better time to do it than Mother's Day. What better gift to give than to give her another mouth to feed, laundry to wash, and most importantly, an oldest son to love. Thanks Mom, and thanks to all the other mom's out there as well.

I also happened to be around for the Men's Open Indoor Volleyball National Championships. I didn't realize it in time to get my name on a roster, but I did manage to catch up with several of my old Golden Bears team mates playing for FOG. They won the title
for a 6th straight year, and 10th time overall according to club founder George Tokarsky.

All in all it's good to be back. Back to blogging, back home, back with friends, and back with my family. And after a nice relaxing break, it will be good to be back on the sand in a couple days as well.


Ben Jammin


All Request Saturday #4 (on Sunday)

Sorry I’m late. After landing in China, I have discovered that I have zero access to my blog due to the Chinese internet censorship laws. I’m not sure of the exact parameters of the censorship, but there are several websites that I know of that have been completely banned all across the country, including: Blogspot, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and I sure many others.

My e-mail address is still operational, however. So hopefully with a little help from my big sister, Milou, I’ll be able to get the word out there while I’m out here. Unfortunately, while I can’t connect to facebook or my blog, I can only see questions that are emailed to me directly. I apologize if that means I miss one this weekend or next. I only have one question in front of me at the moment, so let’s have at er.

What was your most successful experience in arguing an issue or point with a beach volleyball official? What would you recommend to other beach volleyball players about how to succeed in arguing points/issues with the officials?

-Jay Nuttall

Referees can be very stubborn. Whether they’re in the right or in the wrong, they will seldom give in to complaints. But it’s not just coincidence, refs are taught to be this way. If one were to give in every time a player contested a play, then the whole game would be spent arguing instead of actually playing.

I don’t think I have any successful experiences arguing with officials. I only have experiences that are slightly less unsuccessful than others. I’m not one of the most controversial players, I tend to try to settle bad calls by winning the next point. The most I remember discussing anything with an official in recent history happened in the Cayman Islands, but not until after the match had ended.

During the match, an opponent tried to play a shot just over my block down the line. He didn’t shoot it high enough, I saw it, and threw it back to the sand with one hand. I was promptly called for an open handed tip. Needless to say, I was rather unhappy. I let the ref know, and in his opinion, I was attacking so his call stood. I let it go and we finished the match. Afterwards, once the adrenaline had stopped pumping, he and I discussed it calmly. I was confident that since I was blocking an attack, my block couldn’t be an attack. He saw my point and we took it to the referee supervisor. Apparently both our points were valid, but had I protested it, I would likely have won since it was more of a reaction play than an actual attack. Oh well, too late to change it now.

I don’t recommend arguing with officials unless you’re absolutely sure you’re right. Read the rulebook inside and out, then you’ll know which calls are even allowed to be argued. If it’s any sort of judgement call, the ref wins. It doesn’t hurt, however, to remind an official to keep a high standard in terms of setting. Don’t yell and scream that you’re opponents hands are garbage, just calmly ask to take a closer look on the next play. More often than not, the next time it happens, the whistle will blow. It’s not necessarily turning a ref in your favour, just helping them to stay focused. In my personal opinion, if you’re spending all your time arguing, you aren’t spending enough time winning. It’s your call which you’d prefer.


Ben Jammin