For The Morning Star
Brittney Page would have loved to bring a Pan Am Games volleyball medal back to Vernon on her next visit home.
Unfortunately for the 31-year-old, her team finished eighth in the competition, far off a podium finish.
“We definitely had high expectations for ourselves,” said Page, who joined the national team in 2009 and has been the squad’s captain since 2012.
“We were coming off a really good Grand Prix and we’ve been improving a lot this summer, with some pretty important wins and have been playing really solid. So coming into this I think we maybe put too much pressure on ourselves or too high of expectations, I’m not sure, but we definitely didn’t finish how we wanted.
“We did a lot of good things, but then, I don’t know, the wrong thing seemed to happen at the wrong time and that set us in a downward spiral at some point.”
The Eastern Washington graduate admitted that with 4,000 screaming, partisan fans at each game, the atmosphere – while exhilarating – was far more intense than they had anticipated.
“Coming into this a lot of people kept asking us ‘How are you guys going to do? How do you feel about the pressure?’” she explained. “And we would say ‘fine, what’s the big deal?’ And then when you get here, it’s just a lot more energy and a lot more nerves and just trying to manage that was definitely a new task.”
Although she left Toronto empty-handed when it came to hardware, in terms of memories, she departed with some of the most special of her career.
“We rarely to get to host in Canada. To play here at be such a popular event is really cool,” said Page, who has represented Canada at more than 100 international matches.
“No matter what happened every game, people would come up to you and tell you how excited they are that you’re playing here, that they got to see your game. There were a lot of little kids out there. That was pretty cool too. So just the excitement of it all was great.”
Page had spent nearly a decade playing professionally in Europe – with stops in Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Finland. Then she tried something new late last year.
She played in China on a three-month contract before national team duties took over again earlier this year.
That will continue because in late September in Mexico there will be regional championships where Canada must finish in the top four to make it into the next stage of Olympic qualification, which will take place sometime in the first half of 2016.
In the meantime, she has time for a little break and a much-anticipated trip back to Vernon.
“I’m so excited, prime summertime in the Okanagan,” said Page.