Olympic Quest: Keeping the Flame Alive – Andrew Pink, Volleyball

My sporting career took me many places. I played volleyball professionally for 10 years and sport transported me from a kid trying to find my way in life, trying to keep off the streets and out of trouble, to an upstanding citizen, a university degree holder, a speaker of three languages and an Olympian. Volleyball is a beautiful sport; one of the most watched and played sports in the world. It is a combination of pure team ethos and ethics, the reliance on others for a common goal. It also highlights individual skills, or lack thereof, in so far as only a sheer bloody minded-ness of a daily six hour monotonous training regime geared towards technical skill set is the singular pathway to success. There is scope no cutting corners in my sport. You either put a shift in, day in day out, or you will come unstuck at some point down the road. It is often said that to be a professional volleyball player you have to be a psychopath. It is a daily grind. It is a solitary struggle. Do I have it in me to get out of bed again today and put in another six hours when my body still aches from the training session three weeks ago let alone three days ago? Volleyball was appealing to me for many reasons. It is a sport that allows you to prove you are better than your opponent in every action you do. My opponent was not going to spike over me, he was not going to ace me, he was not going to shine today. This was the mental attitude required in every training session, every day for the past 10 years.

Unfortunately you cannot yet play volleyball professionally in the UK. To test myself and compete at a level that allowed me to improve and get selected for the national team I had to ply my trade abroad. I was fortunate enough to find a university in the States that would offer me a scholarship to play on its volleyball team. After completing my degree in International Business and Marketing, I moved back to London and began my Olympic quest. I lived for 8-9 months a year in some fantastic places; Amsterdam, Athens, Italy, France, Poland but to name a few. I immersed myself in my sport and the local culture, learned a couple languages, and collected my meagre pay all with the knowledge that London 2012 wasn’t too far away. At times the light at the end of the tunnel (London!) seemed so far away. When it was -27C for three straight months in Poland and I wasn’t getting paid any more than a minicab driver, I began to get the sense that I needed to begin to think about an exit strategy.

I knew I would be leaving the sport a better person, a more well rounded person, who had bags of experiences and skills that would be highly sought after by employers but I was worried that my degree would be too old to be relevant. I was worried I would be frowned upon for having such a large gap between my degree obtained and my first ‘’real job’’. In essence, I thought I was pretty clever and would always back myself, but having to live abroad for 9 months a year I didn’t have the network of contacts that some of the UK based athletes had built up. This is where add-victor came in.

I wish add-victor had been around a few years ago when I first started to formulise a plan to get out of Volleyball. I had no real idea what I wanted to do or even what industries I should target. After a few meetings with the lovely people at add-victor we began to cross a few things off of a long list. It is much easier to figure out what you do not want to do I’ve found! I’m now much more confident in my ability to apply my unique background and skill set to the professional world and have stripped away the initial panic of ‘sport is over, what the hell do I do now??!!’ I truly believe that add-victor is a fantastic resource for all athletes regardless of where you are in your sporting life, at the very beginning of your sporting journey or clinging on to your sport with your fingernails. I would have been absolutely lost without their guidance and help; just another CV in the middle of a huge stack on someone’s desk crying out for a chance. I just wish they would have started add-victor sooner!

-Andrew Pink
140+Caps for Great Britain Volleyball

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