You may have first heard about her here! Sarah-Jeanne Meunier-Bédard, professional volleyball player, is telling us all about her season! She went through a lot of changes and adventures this year, let’s hear it!
You never know what can happen in life! Sarah-Jeanne recalled that when she first tried beach volleyball, she didn't like it that much. And yet, she has now made the switch to play in this discipline full-time since last January! This year, she competed in a total of 12 competitions with her teammate Helene Rancourt, 5 of them were internationals. A first for her but it was quite a success:
“Our first FIVB (the International Volleyball Federation) in Cambodia was a success! It was the only tournament where we had to qualify to move to the next stage otherwise the journey would have been over for us! It was incredibly stressful to play in a foreign country where we didn't understand the language and had to deal with jet lag. It was also our very first FIVB so It was all very stressful, but our goal was to try to be as relaxed as possible during the match. When we arrived in the competition, we realised that the opposite players were also under a lot of stress and I think we handled it better than them so that made a difference! We won the match and moved to the next stage and from that point on, we were on cloud nine! We won against excellent teams and even reached the play-off game. We were really proud of our first FIVB and it set the bar high for the other tournaments!
She admits that dealing with stress was something particularly difficult for this first season abroad. Here’s how she did it:
“We were able to deal with stressful situations all thanks to the great relationship Helene and I have! It’s important to talk to your teammate and you should not be afraid to say it out loud when you are stressed or worried. It’s not good to keep it inside! I think it really made a difference for our season.”
It was a very good season for our volleyball player who recently moved back to Quebec and this decision will most certainly influence her career. It also had consequences on her season:
“The difficult part about moving back to Quebec was that, when we were in Toronto we were part of the National Centre. Everything was organised for us but now we have to do it all on our own. All that’s related to organisation or money is our responsibility now, that’s the biggest challenge and it’s definitely not simple!”
She had to deal with new challenges, but it allowed her to learn some important lessons:
“I understand now that it’s hard to focus on volleyball and volleyball only! It’s important to have a certain balance in order to do better in the long term. You have to make certain choices to get this harmony. We are lucky because we are both from Quebec so coming back was one of the choices that we made to reach this balance! I think we are still working toward that perfect harmony but it’s coming! We know that now, we are with a coach who’s known us for years and who understand what we have been through whereas at the National Centre, it was different. There were a lot of teams, so they would focus more on these teams rather than on individuals. This is like a new start for us!”
With her new goals in mind, she can now go back to her training to prepare for her next tournaments, but there’s more!
“This winter I am going to train with the Sherbrooke Vert & Or team for indoors volleyball and of course I will also keep training for beach volleyball with my coach. I have decided to go back to class as well so that I can compete for the university circuit for the next 2 years. It gives me time to finish college and start my Olympic cycle in 2020, to prepare for the 2024 Olympics. I also have to work to pay my bills since, when I left the training centre in Toronto, I had to give up my licence for Sport Canada! With my teammate, we also planned on doing some training camps abroad once a month to prepare for our season that will start mid-April.
To conclude, she tells us about a little story that happened at the end of her season:
“I lost my passport at the end of our last competition in Mexico! I had to stay there 4 more days, alone and without identity! It was a lot of stress and a lot of expenses but in the end, I learned my lesson!”
It was indeed a very busy season for Sarah-Jeanne, but no regrets!
“It was hectic, but I really keep a good memory of all this! Everyone was saying that the international circuit was not going to be easy and at first, we didn't have any expectations. We just wanted to give it a try and see our level. Then, with the first tournament in Cambodia, we did really well so we started to set clear goals but that’s when we began to have expectations and disappointments. For next year, that’s something we want to work on as well!”
Her big goal for the upcoming years? The Olympics of course!
“A lot of things can happen in-between but that’s my biggest dream! I’ve been thinking about it for years and it would be awesome to make my career in the 2024 or 2028 Olympics. It’s my number one goal! It will probably be the turning point in my career and I’ll have to decide if I keep on going or if I stop there!”