TEAM: Beach volleyball BORN: Sept. 13, 1987 SCHOOL: Waterdown District High School, University of Toronto
BANSLEY WAS A FIVETIME Ontario university allstar, two-time all-Canadian and Ontario player of the year and also led the nation in kills and aces and points-per-set when she played for the Varsity Blues.
At the suggestion of her coach Kristine Drackich, Bansley began evolving into a beach volleyball player in the summer of 2007, three years before she graduated from U of T.
She started competing fulltime on the elite FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour in 2010 and, partnering with Liz Maloney, won two of the three matches over Mexico to land Canada a women’s-team berth for the London 2012 Olympics.
But she and Maloney were forced to play a one-match winner-take-berth event, which they lost to Quebec’s Annie Martin and MarieAndrée Lessard.
That, according to her Olympic team bio, left her determined to never leave qualifying to chance again.
Bansley teamed with Sarah Pavan, from Kitchener, after Maloney’s retirement due to a knee injury in 2013. Despite the short time together, they are Canada’s top team and stand fifth in Olympic rankings.
They enjoyed a superb 2015 season, with their first World Tour podium finish (second) at Prague and became the first Canadian women’s team to win an FIVB Major Series medal with a silver in Porec, Croatia.
Bansley completed the season as the top scorer in Major Series events and she and Pavan finished fifth at the world championship, the best-ever by a Canadian pair. This season Bansley and Pavan have won a bronze at the Moscow Grand Slam and silver again at Porec.
Canada has qualified the maximum two women’s and two men’s teams, for the first time since the ultra-popular sport debuted at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Bansley and Pavan are considered medal contenders.
“When we are playing to our potential, we are up there with the best teams in the world,” Bansley told the CBC.
Heather Bansley: Medal ahead?