Beyond all the accolades, championships, money, fame and fortune, do any of us know what it is really like to be a professional athlete?
Former professional beach volleyball player Bryce Barry, who grew up in Sechelt, provides an inside perspective on the world of professional sports in her new book, More Than Medals.
“Being a professional athlete is a life lucky to be lived,” Barry wrote. “It’s a chance to see the world, experience other cultures, and learn more about yourself as you navigate sport and your place within it.”
Yet the journey is not necessarily an easy one, as Barry knows all too well.
As a member of the national beach volleyball team, she toured the world for more than a decade, representing Canada at the uppermost tier of her sport.
“In speaking to other pro athletes, I found out I was not alone with my doubts, fears and insecurities, as that’s part of the process when you put all of yourself into anything,” she said. “I wanted to share what I learned from my journey in sport, as well as provide inspiration and an insider view of that world.”
Barry interviewed more than 30 top-tier pro athletes for her book, including many names well known to the public. It’s an all-star list of national team members, Olympians and Olympic medalists that includes equestrian Ian Millar, triathlete Simon Whitfield, speed skaters Kristina Groves and Jeremy Wotherspoon, and the late freestyle skier Sarah Burke.
The more than 20 summer and winter sports represented by the athletes range from adventure racing to cross-country skiing to wheelchair racing, with many others in between.
“It was such an honour to get to know these athletes personally,” said Barry, who now counts a number of them as friends. Because of her own athletic background, she says they responded to her as a peer, providing extraordinary insight into the triumphs and struggles of their careers.
“My book looks beyond the polished picture of pro sports,” she said. “It traces the arc of an athlete’s career, which is the same regardless of what sport you’re in — starting from the rookie’s perspective and onto the middle part where things get messy as you face sustaining a career along with inevitable injuries, all before you reach your sports expiration date and question what comes next.”
Barry said she wrote More Than Medals to inspire aspiring athletes as well as anyone involved in sports in any capacity.
“These are athletes I admire, and I think we can all learn so much from them — not only in how to compete but how to be successful in sport and in life.”
More Than Medals: An Inside Look at the Athlete’s Journey retails for $28 and is available at www.brycebarry.com