Another season, another foreign language dictionary.
Such is the life of Vernon’s Brittney Page, whose pro volleyball career has taken her on more overseas assignments than a United Nations envoy.
After stints in a Austria and Spain, the Eastern Washington University Eagles grad got some northern exposure last season with a women’s club team called Paka in Kuusamo, Finland.
“It’s been quite the extreme. I went from (Spain) to the Arctic Circle,” joked the 27-year-old.
The jet-set lifestyle is mainly a blessing, but does have its drawbacks, said Page.
“That’s my favourite part. After every season I get the chance to go and travel. All my friends are playing pro too, and I know so many people over there that you just look up a country and you have a friend there.”
It is the uncertainty of not knowing where she will land next season that is slightly more worrisome.
“It’s really tough just getting up and moving to a country. Right now I don’t have a contract, and potentially in two, three months I could be in another country with another language. I have no idea where I’m going to be.
“You find out within a week often. It’s like ‘They want you in Finland, so pack your bags and get your dictionary.’ You’re quite fortunate if you go somewhere where they speak English.”
After the club season ended in May, Page returned to Winnipeg for her third tour with the national women’s team.
Canada, ranked 20th in the world, hosted 25th-ranked Argentina in a four-match friendly last week in Winnipeg and Brandon. The two teams split the series 2-2, and it allowed Canada head coach Arnd Ludwig of Germany to select a 12-player roster as they head to the Pan Am Cup, starting today in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.
The 12-team tournament features top-ranked NORCECA (North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation) teams and South America. The top three NORCECA finishers and the top South American side will qualify for the 2012 FIVB World Grand Prix.
Canada opened round-robin play by falling 3-0 (25-23, 25-15, 25-13) to No. 13-ranked Dominican Republic Friday night. Also in their pool is No. 8 Cuba, Argentina, No. 27 Mexico and No. 60 Chile.
“We’re going in with a little bit different team; We’re bringing in a couple young players so they can get some experience under their belts,” said Page.
“We have such a good core group. We want to do well, and our first goal is to get through our pool and move up from there.”
After starting as the right side hitter in her debut season with Team Canada, Page has agreed to step aside and play more of a complementary role for rising star Sarah Pavan of Kitchener, Ont., a four-time first team All American with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cornhuskers. Pavan helped the Huskers claim a national title in 2006 after finishing runners-up the year before.
“There’s only two right sides per team, so it’s a tough spot to be in. She’s (Pavan) an NCAA MVP and she is world class. So right now my role is to be the double sub and come in when I’m needed and be a role player more so than a starter now, which is fine by me,” said Page.
“I’m finally feeling like a pretty experienced player and it’s a little more apparent these days. When you see the young girls it’s like “OK, I am experienced.’”
Despite taking a smaller role, Page brings an edge to the court and thrives on being in the middle of the action.
“I like the feel of intensity and competitiveness. I love being in moment, and being a gamer just comes naturally to me. It’s an adrenaline rush.
“That’s what’s so refreshing about coming back here (to Team Canada) to all these players who are elite athletes. We go into practice 100 per cent every day. If you’re not competing, your teammates will let you know it.”