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2017-06-27 20:20:00 CET

Sax on the Beach: Behind the Scenes

Read the third installment of Ben Saxton's Swatch Major Series blog

Oh, hey there Swatch Major Series. It’s been too long. Seriously though, everyone has been waiting impatiently for you, and we’re very glad you’re back. The top caliber of tournament has been missing since early February and it’s like a piece of me has been missing right along with it. All other events pale in comparison, so it will be nice to get back to a premium quality beach volleyball event. But enough of all this sentimental junk, on to the real topic.

Playing on tour may seem like all glitz and glamour, but there’s a lot of behind the scenes work and awkwardness that you don’t often get to see or hear about. Now I’m only going to talk about how my own personal life works leading up to and during an event, but I’m sure many players who read this (if any of them do) will be able to relate to one part or another. Unfortunately for those of you looking for the steamy gossip, this entry is going to be fairly PG, because quite frankly, so is my life.

Step one is training. Now I know I’ve touched on training in my first Sax on the Beach entry, but I’m not sure if those are archived anywhere (they are, read it here! – Ed), so only the diehard fans (mom and dad) will remember what I wrote anyways. Regardless, training time is important, though can be rather repetitive. Yes, we spend most of our days on some of the best beaches in North America (Manhattan, Hermosa, Huntington, Kitsilano), but generally, any given day will go as follows:

Eat, practice, eat, work out, eat, lie face down and drooling on the floor, eat more, sleep.

Sometimes I’ll throw in the occasional canoe lesson, round of golf, or board game fiesta, but for the most part, it’s all about getting those gains. (For examples of said gains, please see other players).

Ben (left) and partner Chaim Schalk won bronze at the Poreč Major 12 months ago.Ben (left) and partner Chaim Schalk won bronze at the Poreč Major 12 months ago.

Step two is travel. First comes the booking. With all the cross referencing of prices with travel dates with airline point potential I’ve done over the past years, I’ve strongly considered that becoming a travel agent might actually be my true calling (whether or not I’m finding myself the best deals is still up for debate). Then comes the actual flying. Now I can only imagine how boarding a plane works for Ryan Doherty (214cm) or Christiaan Varenhorst (212cm), but for me at 2 meters it goes a little something like this:

First, I walk down the aisle, where the roof seems to be one regular height, but beware the slightly protruding exit signs, aka head smashers. Then there are the airplane seats, which seem to be getting closer and closer together, so I don’t fit between them unless I’m sitting perfectly straight or hugging my knees to my chest. Fortunately, the headrest almost reaches up to my shoulders, so I can look forward to zero neck support. It’s about this time that the flight attendant will come around and tell me that I haven’t paid for the extra legroom in premium economy, and need to head back to my real seat in regular economy, but not to worry, they will provide a complimentary chainsaw to remove my legs so that I can fit. Then they wait until after amputating to tell me that I will need to purchase an extra seat for each leg. This is a win-win for the airline, because on the one hand they’ll get some extra money from me, and on the other, they get the pleasure of dragging me off the plane. Now sit perfectly still for the next one to 15 hours, and enjoy the sound of crying babies, coughing, and the clearing of throats. I could go on, but I feel like I’ve painted a pretty clear picture about my opinions on air travel.

There is more that goes into the life of a beach athlete, but I vented too long about flying and I need to wrap it up, so the final step is actually playing an event. This is the flashy part, at least at a Swatch Major Series event. The way we get treated during the Swatch Major Series is hands down better than any other tournaments we play. With all the care and attention to detail they put into the venues and into actually showcasing the athletes and the sport of beach volleyball, not to mention the interaction with the fanbase that gets cultivated as a result, it makes all the exhaustion of training and the discomfort of travelling worth it. Most importantly, it makes the players actually think that we are valued, because for a brief moment, we actually do get a taste of all the glitz and glamour that people assume we always get. It’s no wonder I get all choked up in anticipation of the upcoming Poreč Major. I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I will.

Now excuse me while I practice folding up into a pretzel before my flight.

Cheers,

Ben

 

Like what Ben writes? Read his first and second blogs for us here and here. Enjoy!

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