Get to know Kitchener’s Olympic beach volleyball player Sarah Pavan

Sarah Pavan from Kitchener is preparing for her first trips to the Olympics.

The beach volleyball player only became a teammate of Heather Bansley of London, Ontario three years ago, and the duo have made a huge impact on their sport.

We follow Pavan during her battle for Olympic gold in Rio in August.

Sundays are there for active recreation !! Today we are along the cliffs in Palos Verdes. hiked #our athletes pic.twitter.com/cJB11hrQlG

– @ SarahPavan

For starters, Pavan took a few minutes outside of her busy training schedule to answer a few questions about growing up in Kitchener, life as a professional volleyball player, and her real opinion of what to wear on the beach volleyball court.

How old are you?

29. I’ll be 30 during the Olympics, so this is going to be very special!

How tall are you exactly

Six feet five inches.

Where did you go to high school?

Forest Heights College in Kitchener.

Did you have a part-time job in high school?

I think I could be one of the few kids who never got a part-time job in high school. I was so committed to my studies, piano and sports that I didn’t have time for anything else.

Do you remember your first volleyball game? If so, what do you remember about it?

I remember. I was 10 years old and my team was made up of new players. We had no idea what was going on and kept going in circles the whole time. However, it got a lot better.

Beach volleyball duo Sarah Pavan (left) and Heather Bansley. (Kevin Lee / Getty)

Was there a coach in high school who really inspired you to get better?

I wouldn’t say I ever needed inspiration to get better. I set myself a lot of goals from a young age, so I was motivated to be the best since I can remember. My father was my coach at Forest Heights and throughout club volleyball, and he devoted a lot of time to me and my career. On the weekends we went out alone to practice things I wanted to improve and he never said no. He was always there to help me achieve my goals.

Love, food and what’s on your tv

How did you meet your husband?

I actually met in high school but were just friends (he asked my dad if he could take me on a date at 14 but my dad said no, ha ha). We met again a few years later when I met him while he was training volleyball at the kids’ club, and the rest is history.

What is your favorite thing to do on your days off?

I love going to cafes and reading a book or doing research on what interests me. I love hiking and stand up paddle boarding (we live in California). I like to be outside and do everything that concerns me. I’m not very good at doing nothing!

Myself and CBC Kitchener give you a glimpse of my path to the Olympics. consequences #Our athlete for more!@ CBCKW891 pic.twitter.com/kngezXcuWl

– @ SarahPavan

Where do you like to travel the most?

How do I choose just one?!?! I love going to Switzerland, Italy and Brazil.

Your Twitter account says you are a foodie. Can you eat desserts or comfort food?

Naturally! I cook most of my meals and eat very healthily on a regular basis. When I combine the time I spend exercising with my healthy diet, I feel like there’s nothing wrong with having a dessert and the like every now and then.

Which foods do you enjoy?

Pizza and ice cream!

Does it surprise people to find out that you have a degree in biochemistry?

Yes. People often stereotype athletes as “stupid athletes,” so it is generally a bit of a surprise to find that I put a lot of emphasis on my academics.

On your days off, do you sometimes go to the beach to just relax?

Not usually. I’ll go paddling in the ocean, but I’ll never just lie on the beach. Since my skin is in the sun every day, it’s stressful enough, so I try to keep my exposure as low as possible.

What are you watching on TV or on Netflix right now?

The Black List, Grimm, Game of Thrones

Let’s talk about volleyball

You switched to beach volleyball in 2013 – what was the hardest part of switching from indoor to beach volleyball?

The hardest part of the transition was retraining my body to perform skills that I had practiced in a certain way for 15 years. While indoor and beach volleyball are similar, the skills are just so different that I had to work really hard to teach my body how to do them differently.

Sarah Pavan (9) and Marisa Field (10) attempt to block a spike during an indoor game in Osaka, Japan in 2013. ((Toru Yamanaka / AFP / Getty Images))

What is the biggest challenge as a volleyball professional?

Be away from home for months and live out of your suitcase. Missing holidays and birthdays.

Don’t you train sometimes?

In the past four years, no! I switch back and forth between the beach and indoor, so when one season ends, the other begins.

We always hear about the crazy diets of professional athletes. What might surprise people about what you eat?

I eat what I want. I do a lot of sport and eat very healthy. So if one day I feel like something, I’ll eat it. I take very good care of my body most of the time, so I feel like everything is fine in moderation.

Of # Rio2016 Historic landmarks venues, here are 10 #TeamCanada Explore athletes 🇧🇷: https://t.co/RKfx9FIssV pic.twitter.com/bJnLxkYUjZ

– @ TeamCanada

Is it harder to play on a team or just with one other person?

It’s much more difficult to play with just one other person. There are so much more interpersonal things that happen when there are only two people on a team, and each player’s actions and words affect the other so much more than when it is diluted between six other people.

It seems as if the uniform of beach volleyball players is criticized every four years. what do you Do you really think about what you are wearing on the pitch?

People don’t understand that we wear bikinis to play with because they are the most comfortable. They keep us cool in scorching hot countries and make it easier for us to move around when we have sand and sweat and everything that burdens us. We are not required to wear them; we choose it. I think that given the problems our society has with women and body image, we should be praised for our confidence in our bodies instead of being criticized for wearing too little clothes.

You have already been to Brazil – what did you like most about it?

I love the atmosphere, especially in Rio. People are so happy and relaxed and it’s all about enjoying life.

What is your biggest challenge in the upcoming games?

I think my biggest challenge will be the fact that I’ve never been to an Olympics. It’s the biggest tournament of my life, but it’s also something completely new to me, so I have to do it.

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