Technical Time Outs
Athlete stories and discussions from around the world,
beyond the scores, stats and what we see on the court.
beyond the scores, stats and what we see on the court.
Written by: Rebecca Pavan
Looking back on the last decade of my life, I can’t help but get emotional. In April, after my Polish volleyball season had ended, I announced that I would not return to playing. When I made this public, I was full of excitement - I couldn’t wait to spend more time with family, coach all summer and after six years return to the classroom to pursue new goals. I had always been aware of what a fortunate position I had as a working professional athlete, but I find looking back, that even being aware of my good fortune I had begun to take my life for granted. Here are some of the things I wish I could experience one last time:
4. getting lost
One of the most beautiful experiences I had overseas had nothing to do with volleyball. With quite a bit of spare time I was still unable to leave my city due to limited time between games. Because of this, I spent many days wandering strange streets alone. When I live in Canada, I rarely walk to just walk. Most of the time when we leave our homes, it is with a specific destination in mind that we usually jump into our cars to get to. In Europe I spent more time wandering, purposefully getting lost in streets that were foreign to me. The beauty of wandering on foot is that the strange streets quickly become welcoming after a few weeks. A strange place starts feeling like your home and sooner than expected you start referring to a new city as yours. It is such a magical experience when a city on the other side of the ocean becomes a place of comfort. If I could, I would like to experience the feeling of a foreign city becoming home one last time.
3. the feeling of walking into a big game
Nothing beats the feeling you get as an athlete when walking into a big game. For me, my body felt lighter, my vision cleared, and my heart filled so much that I could feel it in my throat. Volleyball was more than a hobby for me, as many others can attest to, it was a passion. It was what made me tick and for those few hours that I went to battle against another team, nothing else mattered. This feeling is something few people get the opportunity to experience. So, if you are still playing soak up every, single, last electrifying moment until you can’t stand it any more.
2. Road trips
Who am I kidding? Everyone who has experienced a 13-hour bus trip knows how terrible it can be. Cramped legs, 5am arrivals home and no cell reception on dark back roads. But, if I could, I’d like one more chance to road trip with my teams. There is something so magical about those late-night drives home after a game when everyone is playing cards or just talking about anything that comes to mind. If I had the chance I wouldn’t sleep the whole way but sit awake soaking in the buzz of my teammates around me. I’d wait until the whole bus settled into a comfortable silence with the glow of my coach’s laptop preparing for out next match. There is so much beauty in being one of 30 people all sleeping uncomfortably on a bus. It is an intimate experience learning that one teammate snores, one still sleeps with her childhood teddy bear and another needs to talk to her husband before falling asleep. It is an intimacy that I will never know again, and I miss terribly.
1. The Sisterhood/brotherhood
I’ve never been a girl’s girl, but through volleyball I found so many sisters. In a world where women tear others down because of perceived competition, it is a beautiful thing to work on a big team of like minded women. It’s something that simply doesn’t happen in the “real world.” I was so fortunate to have connected with strong, confident women who have shaped who I am post volleyball. I experienced women lifting me up, encouraging me, comforting me and most powerful of all losing with me. In my time abroad, I didn’t win or lose alone. I experienced what it felt like to play for the woman next to me or the teammate cheering from the bench. If I pass this feeling and attitude onto teams I coach or future children, the world would be a much better place. If you’re still playing be a cheerer, lift up your teammates, and be the teammate that everyone can look to and know you are fighting with them.
It is difficult to articulate what it felt like to play as a professional. I was able to live “the dream” and while there are always painful moments, I would do it all over again. The gift of living abroad, creating relationships with people you would never meet otherwise is such a blessing. The above list is 4 things I’ll miss of the hundreds that I think about every day. I am happy to have a new challenge, but my experiences on and off the court as a professional athlete are irreplaceable and have made me who I am today.
Growing up in Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario (while playing club volleyball for her father Paul, a coaching legend in the region and province), Rebecca has been one of Canada's most decorated athletes over the last decade. She has played for the University of Kentucky Wildcats, Canada's Senior Women's National Team and professionally in France, Germany and Poland. She retired at the end of the 2017 season, and is now completing Teacher's College at the University of Western Ontario.
Hello Momentum world, Aleks Arsovic here! Former McMaster Marauder from Burlington, Ontario, in Switzerland for my first season abroad. I got lucky enough to sign my first professional contract in the most beautiful country on the planet - no bias, where I am playing for VBC Cheseaux in the NLA here in Switzerland.
My road here has been pretty generic as a volleyball player in Canada, but has had some interesting twists and turns to it. I started playing volleyball when I was 11 years old, for the Halton Region Volleyball Club based out of my home town.
I made my way up the club volleyball ladder and finished my 18u year with an OVA championship gold with Lakeside Volleyball Club (shoutout to my Lakeside family who will literally be family for life). Throughout my high school years, I really focused a lot on beach volleyball, and thought that was my calling (Fun fact - in my 18u year I won both indoor and beach provincial titles).
I decided to go to York University for my undergrad because it was so close to the Volleyball Canada Beach Full-time training centre, and also to play amongst some serious volleyball rockstars - ahem…. Melissa Humana-Parades, Brandie Wilkerson, and fellow Momentum Athlete, Ray Szeto, just to name a few! In my summers, I spent time with Team Ontario Beach and the Full-time training centre trying to make my way up, only to run into a pretty crummy stress fracture in my foot that put my indoor and beach career on hold for a while. After some soul searching, a quarter-life crisis and a long potential recovery time, I had a change of heart and decided to transfer to McMaster University to further pursue indoor volleyball.
In my first year at Mac I had to redshirt due to USPORT (CIS, at the time) regulations, which turned out to be a blessing because I really got to take the time I needed to heal my foot properly, and get super strong in the weight room leading up to my next season. More importantly, I really got to earn the respect of my teammates in practice. Let me tell you, red-shirting is not easy, but as long as you stay positive, trust the process, and support your teammates to your best capabilities, it can teach you some lovely life lessons that playing volleyball cannot. In that year off of competing, I learned to be a better friend, teammate, and volleyball player. I have been fortunate enough to always see playing time throughout my volleyball career, and for the first time in my life, I had to ride the bench. It was quite frustrating, and there were many many times where I wish I could have been on the court, but in the end, it paid off. The following season, when I was finally eligible to play, we ended up winning the 2017 OUA Championship. Fast forward to this April, and I closed the chapter at McMaster after just coming short of repeating as OUA Champions in my senior campaign (shoutout to Ryerson and their stellar 2018 season finishing with a national title). I made some lifelong friends at McMaster and am so, so glad I decided to make the switch when I did.
I had always wanted to pursue volleyball professionally, but come the beginning of 2018, it was time to make this dream a reality. I had been in contact with Michael (Amoroso) and Joost at Eltee Volley for some time leading into this period, and I felt very comfortable putting my career in their hands. After a few great months of communication and collaboration, I signed my first professional volleyball contract, and made my dream a reality. I am now living in Cheseaux, just north of Lausanne (the olympic capital), and slowly but surely adjusting to this new beautiful life I get to live. Playing volleyball for a profession is such a dream come true and I am so happy and lucky I get to call this my job. To any young athlete reading this, although the title of a professional athlete can seem very out of reach, it is very real, and very attainable. The advice I would give to anyone right now, is to never get out-worked. There is always someone better than you, and you have to be willing to make some pretty gnarly sacrifices to get yourself where you want to be. Always work hard, and always be kind, because nobody likes a mean person. Finally - we are so lucky to play a team sport, so enjoy it! Enjoy the different personalities you get to work with, and learn to love being able to thrive off of others’ energies. My favourite part about playing volleyball is bringing other people’s spirits up, celebrating one another, and working towards a common goal, WINNING!
Thanks for taking the time to read my lengthly blurb, and good luck to everyone and their upcoming seasons! I would love to hear all about it. If you want to follow me throughout the year - keep up to date with VBC Cheseaux, I am #5!
Aleks Arsovic is just beginning her first professional season with VBC Cheseaux, competing professionally in Switzerland. Follow her whole journey on Instagram at @aleksarsovic !