Mondays with Melissa: Talking all things beach volleyball


Lausanne, Switzerland, June 10, 2020 – 2019 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship gold medallist Melissa Humana-Paredes of Canada talked about different aspects of beach volleyball and answered questions from fans in three Facebook Live sessions in May and June. You can watch all three sessions again below.

Mondays with Melissa Humana-Paredes #1: Get to know Melissa
Mondays with Melissa Humana-Paredes #2: Life as a pro
Mondays with Melissa Humana-Paredes #3: 2019 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship and partnership (also featuring Sarah Pavan)

Getting into beach volleyball and her biggest influence
Humana-Paredes began playing beach volleyball first, before learning to play the six-a-side game. Her father Hernan, who coached John Child and Mark Heese to Olympic bronze at Atlanta 1996, inspired her to get into the sport.

“I actually started playing beach volleyball before I started playing indoor volleyball, which is not the norm and an unorthodox way of getting started in the sport, but a lot of that was an influence from my dad who played for the Chilean national team.

“When he came to Canada he started coaching beach volleyball and his team went to the Atlanta 1996 Olympics and they won a bronze medal there. I was four years old when my dad coached this team to a bronze medal at the Olympics.

“At a very young age, beach volleyball, the Olympic journey and the Olympic dream were influencing my life. That’s how I got started and that’s what sparked my journey in the game.”

Sacrifices of a professional athlete
Winning the World Championship is one of the biggest feats of a professional beach volleyball athlete, but there are also many sacrifices that have to be made to reach that level of success. Melissa pointed out that missing time with loved ones is one of them.

“Being a pro is not easy. There are times when I enjoy it and some moments when I don’t, just like how people do with their jobs.

“It’s really gruelling and there’s a lot of work that happens behind the scenes. It’s a privilege in itself and I feel very lucky to be able to do this. It’s not easy being a professional athlete because we sacrifice a lot in pursuing a goal. It’s a selfish endeavour because we are working towards our goals and dreams. We have a team of people surrounding us and they are also helping us to get to our goal.

“I think sometimes those dreams can get in the way of other things. You miss a lot of social and family interactions. You just miss time with people which you would never really get back and sometimes that realisation hits me hard.”

2019 World Championship and partnership with Sarah Pavan
Melissa and her beach volleyball partner Sarah Pavan asked each other questions about winning an Olympic medal, the 2019 World Championship and their successful partnership.

Melissa on whether an Olympic gold medal defines an athlete’s legacy:

“I don’t think a gold medal defines someone or their athletic career or their legacy. Someone can leave a beautiful legacy behind without a gold medal. A gold medal is what every athlete strives for and works for. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel but it does not diminish everything that an athlete has done beforehand and does not define what is to come in the future. A gold medal is the ideal, but there’s always more to the journey than just the colour of the medal. It’s everything in between that and everything else after that.”

Melissa on what makes their team special:

“The importance that we place on our relationship makes our team special, and the work that we do behind the scenes to have a really strong and open relationship. Maybe not a lot of teams or a lot of people realise how important a partnership is in an Olympic journey or in any journey.

“In beach volleyball when you spend a lot of time with someone, we don’t have substitutions and your partner is your only other teammate and your lifeline on the court. It has made us closer and our journey more enjoyable, which is probably the best part of our team."

Sarah on her proudest memory of them as a team:

“It would be the semifinals of the 2019 World Championship. We were winning 14-10, which was 1 point to go and should be pretty decisive, but Switzerland came back and tied it up 14-14.

“We were very honest and vulnerable with each other, but never for a second did we doubt ourselves. We acknowledged the feelings, the feelings that we were having, but we stayed calm in those very high-pressure moments. The fact that we maintained our cool and just were there for each other and knew that we had each other’s backs no matter what, that for me defined our team. After coming out of that situation on top, I knew that we were going to win the next game because I knew we had it in us.”

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