Monday, January 21, 2013

A leap of faith

Dear family, friends, fans and Canada. 

Since I was a little boy it was my ultimate dream to play professional sport and to represent Canada in the Olympics. I started in the pool and then shifted towards beach volleyball where I pursued my dreams and made them a reality this summer in London. It is amazing to sit here while writing this and reflect on how that lofty childhood goal shaped and influenced my life over the last 15 years. I am blessed to live in a country that granted me the opportunity to pursue my dream in sport and with that life changing experience behind me, I officially announce my retirement from the Canadian Beach Volleyball team. 

From a volleyball perspective it is difficult to justify my decision because I technically came off the best season of my career. Years of training and focus culminated in a summer of meaningful games and events and I am forever a different person because of what those pressure moments demanded of me. Yes I am now better equipped to achieve a higher world ranking in the sand but I am also more qualified to pursue my goals off the court. From a life perspective I truly believe the time is right for me to pursue my passions outside of sport while gratefully tapping into the valuable life lessons I learned while competing. 

So it is with an open heart and a leap of faith that I declare myself a retired national team athlete and professional beach volleyball player. 

I would like to thank all the athletes I have had the pleasure of calling a teammate and I wholeheartedly express that each one of you have made a profound impact in my life thanks to the camaraderie we built both on and off the court. Shout out to Josh Howatson, Cory Hilditch, Brian Hiebert, Jessi Lelliott, Ben Saxton, Ray Sewell, Ahren Cadieux, Chaim Schalk and Josh Binstock for sharing some of the best experiences in my life with me. Honorable mention to Sam Schacter for wanting to play with me for 2013 and I know if I was able to give you 100% we would have made magic out there buddy. You are one of Canada's most promising athletes and I thank you for so gracefully understanding this decision. 

I would also like to thank the countless coaches that have assisted in my development. This is a long list but I will do my best to cover the ground. Massive thanks to Brian Mcgaskill, Jay Mitchener, Paul Smith, Paul Mend, Chris Densmore, Linda Henderson, Richard Schick, Mark Heese, Lennard Krapp and Joe Body for believing in me and giving me an opportunity to rise to your challenges. Special thanks to Gus Tsiapalis for facilitating such a healthy and open relationship with Josh leading up to the games!

There have been sponsors and people who have supported me with product and I thank you for your willingness to support me and for making such fantastic products that have undoubtedly assisted in my success over the years! Thanks to Kaizen NutritionQ EnergyKINeSYS SunscreenSmith Optics and Ascenta Oils. From the training perspective thanks to Joga with JanaDr.Philip WarnerMarc St.JulesTitanium Crossfit and Tommy Tran for your leadership and guidance towards my physical performance. You were all significant influencers in my progression as an athlete and human being and I thank you for your patience and leadership.

A massive thanks to Adil Amlani at Sure Copy Courtenay for coming on board as my partner in web and graphic design. We set lofty goals in 2008 and you have created the most amazing visual experiences on my behalf since then brother. Your partnership in this journey has been essential and I wouldn't be where I am today without your energy, vision and friendship. I am forever indebted to you and your family.

Lastly, I would like to thank my mother Patrisha Reader, my father Norman Reader for their unconditional support in my life. You two have sacrificed so much for my benefit all the while knowing the Olympic dream could be taken away from me at any point. You mean the world to me and your profound love has been the most influential force in my life. To my wonderful sister Cheyla Reader, you have been a beautiful part of my life for 26 years. Thank you for your energy and support throughout it all, I am blessed to have you in my life.

The next Step 

After the games I experienced a whirlwind of activity as I entered Toronto life without having crazy full time training commitments. I was able to put time into friendships, personally thank those who supported me and invest in getting to know and exploring the place I now call home. Through this redirection of social time and life enjoyment I expanded my network and came to terms with my gut feeling that I wanted to make a larger impact in the health and wellness of Canadians. Once I allowed myself to visualize what that looked like, life started presenting me with amazing opportunities to fulfill that vision.

I was soon thereafter approached by Toronto's newest 5-Star Shangri-La Hotel to become their signature guest trainer under my brand "Strive Conditioning and Nutrition". After years of training around the world as a pro athlete, I developed a personal training system to safely and effectively impact life performance and health. With an incredible property excited to engage my services, it seemed like the right opportunity to bring "Strive" it to life.  I will also look to expand my impact this summer through youth conditioning camps as well as outdoor adult boot camp style training. Please "like" Strive fitness on facebook for great training, nutrition and healthy lifestyle tips! 

Then two unconnected friends introduced me to a fantastic charity that is impacting kids health across Canada. The initiative is focusing on educating, inspiring and engaging kids to live healthier and more active lifestyles. I was offered the eastern Canadian ambassador position and I didn't think twice about it! Since then I have made eight school visits and and multiple sponsorship and alliance meetings as we push to reduce the rate of child obesity in Canada. For more information about this fun and engaging program check out The 60 Minute Kids Club .

Since my return from the games I have been managing a great friend's DJ'ing career. DJ Matt Bryce has made a fantastic name for himself and we recently decided to add our own unique ideas to the Toronto event game. We will look to create quarterly experience oriented gatherings to instigate conversation, spark imagination and connect great people in an inspiring environment.

Lastly, I have always desired to coach and give back to beach while promoting and elevating the sport to the status it deserves as the premier summer Olympic lifestyle event. I love the idea of being a liaison between our sport and the corporate/business sector and Steve Anderson our new head coach believes in making that connection. With the 2015 PanAm Games happening in Toronto I believe beach has the right appeal to become one of Canada's summer identity sports and our national team to develop as a dominant force on the world circuit.

So there you have it, my world has changed and I couldn't be more excited to take a leap of faith into new challenges and opportunities. I humbly thank you for having been a part of my journey thus far and hope you can continue being a part of it moving forward!

Yours truly,


Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Stadium (dated blog but a new post)

The stadium

When we were competing in the Rome Grand Slam just over a month ago I visited the Coliseum. It had been a dream of mine for a long time as I view it as the origination of the spectacle of sport. Although people died back then, it was about the show, pleasing thousands of people with bravery, action and athleticism inspired by the will of the gladiators to survive. Luckily for me my life is not on the line here in London, however, while at the Coliseum I merged the two stadiums in my mind. The roar of the crowd after a powerful attack, the gasps after a brilliant dig or the fear as a lion was added to the mix (follow my Latvian friend Alexander “Lion King” @samoilovs to understand). People came from far and wide to catch the blood & action in the Coliseum and now in the 21st century people are doing the same in London to experience the power, finesse, athleticism and entertainment only the top beach volleyball athletes in the world can offer.  At the Coliseum I breathed in the summer air with my eyes shut, chest up and took in the generations of epic battles to bring with me to London.
Dancing girls on the training courts

We had trained a few times on the side courts without even viewing center court. Finally our main court orientation came and we entered the venue. We didn’t come through the tunnel as I had imagined but the court was legendary regardless. Slow rising, the seats went up into what felt like the skyline. The massive HD screens look like 32 inch monitors and Horse Guards Parade rose up out of one side of the venue. The sand was deep and perfectly manicured. The lines were purple and the net was strung immaculately. We trained hard and worked for our replicated a many game situations as possible. Confident, poised and putting extra attention into what was in our control we had a great intro to the court. We are ready for the Brits on Saturday and ready to take on our pool.

Now we will play some games against Latvia and Russia to fire up our competitive side. These games will be about giving it our all and leaving it all out on the court. We are seen as underdogs but we know what we are capable of. Josh and I have what it takes to make top 10 in this tournament and from there on it will come down to heart and execution. Like the USA team did in Australia in 2000, we will grind through every game with no expectation while committing 100% to each point until there are no more points to be played. #giveyoureverything