The price of gold is going up
T.O. volleyball star started a local league to help fund other athletes
The feeling of warm sand between his toes and sunshine browning his shoulders isn’t as relaxing for Christian Redmann as it is for most people. Back in 2012, when one fierce game of beach volleyball determined his chances of competing at the Olympic Games, playing on the beach was a little nerve-racking .
“It was pretty intense,” the native Torontonian remembers. At the time, he was playing for Canada’s top team, but that day “10 to 15 years of work came down to 30 minutes,” he says.
“It was a one-game, winner-takesall and goes to the Olympics. We played against the second-placed Canadian team — but they beat us that day, so we didn’t get to go.”
However, the misfortune the young athlete faced that fateful day has only fuelled his dreams to go to the Games in 2016.
“We’ll have to work pretty hard and just go after it,” Redmann says.
The challenges the now 31-yearold faces to qualify for Rio de Janeiro are not just limited to hard work and skill. He says that volleyball is heavily underfunded.
“You have to play on the world tour to be qualified for the Olympics,” Redmann explains. “This is all coming out of my own pocket. This year alone is going to be about $30,000 dollars per person — that doesn’t include coaching costs.”
In 2010, Redmann and his close friend and coach John Child, bronze medallist during the 1996 Atlanta summer Olympics, decided to start the Leaside Volleyball League with the aim of helping to fund the sport for other athletes.
“We came up with the concept of a league where everyone gets a chance,” he says.
The league has grown exponentially, going from a hundred registrations in its first year to close to 550 this past year. It runs out of Havergal College on Sundays and will be starting out of a second location at Bishop Strachan School this year in order to accommodate more kids and have two gyms running at once.
Redmann’s advice to the young athletes in the league who may also have Olympic dreams is to weigh the pros, cons and sacrifices of dedicating your life to the sport — and then if you decide to go for it, to not let anything get in your way.
“You have to make things happen for yourself. You can’t really rely on anyone else to do it for you — consider any extra help that comes in a bonus and be grateful for it,” he says. “That being said, you want to surround yourself with good people — people that believe in you, people that will go to the wall for you and fight for you and help you out during tough times.”
Redman has his sights set on the 2016 Summer Games