Duo aims for golden time on beach
During the fall and winter months, Nick Del Bianco and Ben Chow are enemies on the volleyball court: Del Bianco playing for the Trinity Western Spartans while Chow suits up for conference rival UBC Thunderbirds.
But in the spring and summer months, the pair are inseparable on the sands of the beach volleyball court.
The 20-year-old best friends — they met six years ago playing club volleyball — are off to Toronto next week where they will look to earn a spot at this summer’s U21 world beach volleyball championships, which will be held in Halifax from Aug. 29 to Sept. 2.
“I think we have a pretty good chance,” Del Bianco said.
“We obviously have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are getting a lot of international experience with our Mexico and Cuba tournaments, which we have lacked in the past.
“It really helps having a few international tournaments under your belt.”
He was referring to a pair of NORCECA (North America, Central America and Caribbean) zone competitions in Mexico and Cuba they recently attended.
They finished fifth in Mexico in late May and third in Cuba at the start of this month.
In previous years, Del Bianco and Chow have gone to the world championships — they finished ninth in both 2009 and 2011 while Del Bianco played with Toronto’s Garrett May in 2010 and placed fourth.
“We are taking this summer more seriously than in the past,” he said.
“We are treating it like our profession. Every day we are either practising on the sand, working out, coaching, or trying to figure out sponsors and donations.”
Both Del Bianco and Chow coach with the Sideout Beach Volleyball Club.
Del Bianco, a former flag bearer for Team BC at the Western Canada Summer Games, will also coach the Fraser Valley team at the B.C. Summer Games in Surrey, which run July 19-22.
Balancing his beach goals, while also preparing for his third season with the two-time defending national champion Trinity Western Spartans, can be difficult. But it is made easier thanks to Spartans coach Ben Josephson.
“He is super understanding and lets me miss a few practices in order to get more beach training,” Del Bianco said. “He is definitely flexible with my schedule.”
To help offset travel costs for their summer season, Del Bianco and Chow are hosting a fundraiser pub night at Surrey’s Black Forest Pub on Saturday (June 30).
Or anyone interested in helping sponsor the pair can email firstname.lastname@example.org.