Last Minute Details

En route to Chennai, India and my pre tournament to do list is almost checked off. It took a bit of improvisation, but things got done, and now they just need to get done on the court:

1. Get entered into Challenger - Check
This was actually harder than it sounds. As the season comes to a close, Steve and I have the 3rd most FIVB points of all Canadian teams. Unfortunately, this put us third behind the two teams of Reader/Schalk and Redmann/Van Huizen. Due to the limit of 2 teams per country at this tournament, that made us the alternate. To avoid having a country quota (where two teams of the same country play off in a pre tournament qualifier), only the top 2 teams were registered, and we were placed on call. A couple days after the registration deadline, Rich and Christian made the decision to pull out of the tournament
This is where things got a little hectic. Since the deadline had passed and we were not yet registered, we were afraid of the standard FIVB 1000$ late entry fee. Thanks to Beach National Team Coordinator, for working nonstop sending emails back and forth with tournament organizers and quite probably sweet talking his way into getting us to replace our fellow Canucks at no extra cost.

2. Train for Chennai - Check
Again, tougher than it sounds (you'll notice this trend throughout this list). Originally the plan was to head down to Huntington and train with the locals. Sadly, since we only received confirmation of our entry to the tournament a week and a half ago, we needed all the time remaining for our Indian visa applications. Whatever training we were going to do, would need to be in Canada, weather permitting. So the week and a half has been spent in Whiterock, BC, with the help of Steve's longtime coach Kyra Iannone. (Thanks again)

3. Book Flights to India - Check
For this one, the difficulty was expected. Flights to India are pricey enough as is, now try booking them within a week of traveling there. After searching every travel site in our arsenal, and searching from all nearby airports we could think of, Steve came through in the clutch and managed to find some almost affordable flights leaving from Seattle.

4. Get Indian Tourist Visas - Check
As with any travel visa, you apply one day, then collect your visa a few days later. In this case it was lot of trouble to apply, and a bit of a scare to collect. After sitting in the Consulate for about 2 hours before finally having my number called just to hand in my application form and passport, I then had to wait about 45 minutes for the bus to show up, for the hour long transit home. Bus rides there and back considered, and the application process took about 5 hours.
The collection scare was my own fault. After losing the receipt, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to pick up my passport again before our flight. Fortunately, all I needed was my name, birthdate, signature, and my lovely face in order for them to verify it was my passport.

5. Pack - Check
No problems, but I hate packing. And laundry, which also needed to get done. At least this time I made sure to pack all my playing shorts in with my carry on this time. Lost luggage won't be getting me down on this little trip. As with most trips, I should remember something that I forgot shortly.

6. Write a Blog - Almost there
Finally, my to do list is my all done list.


Ben Jammin


The Return

I thought I told you all to give me a smack if I was slacking on my blog duties. Shame on you.

Only joking. Really it's shame on me. I have been getting reminders from friends and family that I need an update or two, but it's sheer laziness on my part that has caused this lack of Ben-formation. So I find myself apologizing to followers yet again. It seems as soon as I strayed from giving myself deadlines, my motivation to blog went with it. But no more, the schedule is back. Twice a week. Mondays and Fridays. Even through the off season. Sure it isn't as often as it once was, but it's more often than in recent months, and I don't intend to have to apologize again.

Now that that's been cleared up, it's time to fill you in on what I've been up to since Nationals. This blog will be split up into two major sections: Chilling with my cousin, aunt, and uncle, and being back at home with friends and family.

Part 1:
First I'll give a little background info on my cousin. Thomas Quinet was born with Cystic Fibrosis. CF is an inherited disease which causes a thicker, stickier mucus to build up in the lungs. The buildup of mucus can be the cause of many severe bacterial infections, which in time causes the lungs to be very damaged. Tom was diagnosed with the disease at birth, has already had a double lung transplant, and is currently on the waiting list for his second.

For more info on Tom's condition from the man himself, you can visit his facebook group here. And I know he would be happy to here any words of encouragement you might have for him.

But I won't talk about Tom's CF anymore, because while hanging out with my cousin, that's not what was noticeable. I find it amazing how the people who have been thrown the toughest curveballs in life are the ones who tend to take the biggest swings of the bat and live life to the fullest. Thomas is one of those people who can get knocked down, but always gets back up with a smile on his face. For the whole week I got to hang out with him, he was always positive.

I used a baseball analogy earlier for a reason. The first day back in Toronto, Steve and I were invited to join Thomas, and his parents, Aunt Suzanne and Uncle Marc, at a Jays vs. Yankees game. What was special about this game is we got to experience the grand opening of a new addition to the Rogers Centre: the new Jays Care Box. A booth in the stadium specially made for children with illnesses and disabilities, giving them an opportunity to hang out at the game with other kids, eat and drink for free, and even meet a few of the Blue Jays themselves.

Tom has gotten the chance to hang out with more famous athletes than I have, and I play a sport for a living. He even got a chance to shake hands with my personal favorite NFL player Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts. Here are pictures of a few notables that my cousin has had the chance to hang out with, which I think is pretty cool.
Peyton Manning
Donald Jones

Antoine Bethea
Ron MacLaen and Don Cherry

Daniel Alfreddson
Forgive me, but I don't really know baseball players

Ben Saxton
I figured I'd throw myself up there cuz I'm hoping to be among the big names by the time my career is good and done. Though apparently my video gaming skills need a little work, because Tom mopped the floor with my attempts at challenging him in his domain. Fortunately, I got to the chance to show him what I'm good at when he got the chance to come watch the last day of Nationals. After a disappointing day of play Saturday, Steve and I managed to win the Consolation side with my little cousin cheering from the sidelines.

Intermission - Get up, grab a snack, I know this blog is a long one, I need to make up for lost time. Second half is coming up now.

Part 2:
After Nationals and the tryout camp for next years national team, I had a little bit of downtime where I managed to get home to see some friends and family. First to Edmonton to hang out with the Bears. I even managed to get a practice in with the guys, before a weekend of good old fashioned Golden Bears fun. As well as a lot of Starcraft II, which I promptly bought for myself. If you have it and feel you can pose a challenge, bring it on. You can find me via my e-mail address bsaxto@gmail.com

From Edmonton, I went home to Calgary for a little over a week. Since my sisters are both currently living in the U.S., it was just my parents, my brother, me, and a whole lot of relaxation..... for the first evening. Come the next morning, it was off to the Volleydome to put my carpentry skills to the test building new benches to go around the both the new and old courts.

There aren't many people who have seen how the Volleydome came to be. I have not only seen, but contributed to many parts of the dome's development. But there is no one who has put more time and effort into the company's literal and industrial growth than my parents, Don and Mylene Saxton. The Volleydome is essentially their fifth child. They've nurtured and molded it, and continue to do so in order to see both the company, and facility evolve right before they're eyes.

If I were to sit here and analyze it, it's as though I have another brother. Just like my other siblings, Dome Saxton and I have grown up together, and contributed to each other's development. I helped put in floorboards and sand for the indoor and beach courts, he gave those courts right back to give me a place to train full time. I played a hand in many of the banners that now hang above the courts, and the Volleydome gives back as my top sponsor. As long as the Volleydome and I both still exist, we will be involved in each others lives, just as any good siblings are.

Before my time there was done, my dad took over as coach and my mom took over as personal trainer. With my dad, I got in some much needed blocking work. With my mom, I was put through workout circuits while waiting for new Team Canada trainer Steve Topham to send out our pre tournament exercises. With my brother, I got rides to and from work.

So that's what you missed. Now it's back on the road. Training in Whiterock, BC this week before we take off next weekend for a Challenger in Chennai, India. Then Mexico a couple weeks after that. Hopefully my family doesn't miss me too much. And vice versa.


Ben Jammin