By: Ashmar Mandou
Top athletes across the country descended onto Oak Street Beach last month in the third stop in a seven-event series for the Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series. Spectators witnessed intense, heart-pounding that spanned over three days. “It is truly great to be here to be able to get out on the sand and give people a great show,” said Olaya “Yaya” Pazo, former national Venezuelan volleyball athlete.
Pazo fell in love with the game at a very young age growing up in Venezuela. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough interest in the sport to carry on a career, so Pazo decided to migrate to the United States to give it a shot. “Luckily, I had the support of my parents,” said Pazo. “They knew how much I loved the sport. I never thought about doing anything else, but play volleyball all day.” During Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series, Pazo took time to share her love of the sport and offer advice for young girls to follow suit.
I can’t really remember when I fell in love with volleyball. I just remember being on my high school team and thinking this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I always felt in control and energized the moment I stepped onto the court. And I knew staying in Venezuela wouldn’t allow me to make a living off of volleyball because, let’s face it, in Venezuela the sport wasn’t that popular at the time that I grew up there [laughs]. So in order for me to evolve as a player I had to leave.
Listen, it’s not as easy as it looks [laughs]. Competing on sand takes a lot out of you and you need to be in top physical shape to be able to move your body across the court. Yes, it can be fun to play recreationally, but if you want to go professionally then you have to treat the sport like any other career. You have improve all the time, build your skills, nurture your talent, and practice. To be the best that I can be, I workout six days a week, I train everyday, and my diet consists of protein and fiber. If I want to compete at the optimal level, I have to train and eat like a champion.
Pursing a Career
Anyone with an interest in pursuing their passion in volleyball needs to learn how to become dedicated and disciplined. It’s that simple. In anything you choose to do in life, you have to remain dedicated and disciplined. Those two traits will take you anywhere you need to go.