Canadian right-side Sarah Pavan has elected to play on the beach this summer and will partner with Heather Bansley. Pavan is coming off arguably her best season: a Brazilian Superliga gold medal with the Rio de Janeiro based club, Unilever. Superliga is one of the best leagues in the world and she had the opportunity to be coached by Bernardo Rezende. After such a great indoor pro season, why switch to the beach? Well, it's not a full switch.
Pavan will continue to play indoors during the fall and winter and will play beach during the summer. On paper, this seems like a win-win for both an athlete's financials and their Olympic dream. It's no secret that the world of professional beach volleyball is hurting right now. Domestic tours in the U.S. are struggling to regain any traction while the FIVB World Tour is really only a financially sustainable full time job for a handful of athletes world wide.
For Canadian female volleyball players, it is looking as if the beach is the better route for our athletes to go to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Judging by Sarah's decision, it looks like she thinks of it this way too. The loss to the Canadian Indoor Women's National Team is a big one, but we can understand her decision.
Time will tell how the back and forth between beach and indoor each season will affect her gameplay, but right now things look optimistic.
Heather is playing with Liz Maloney for the first two events on the FIVB World Tour in China. After that, Heather will be joining Sarah down in California for some training before their first event together in Argentina.
Sarah is not a complete stranger to the beach. While sand volleyball wasn't officially sanctioned by the NCAA until recently, Sarah played for Nebraska in the Collegiate Sand Volleyball Championships.
We spoke with Heather briefly (electronic communication in China is actually harder than one would think) and are looking to have her and Sarah on a future episode on The Volleyball Source Podcast in the coming weeks.