Humana-Paredes began playing beach volleyball first, before learning to play the six-a-side game. Her father Hernan, who coached John Child and Mark Heese to Olympic bronze at Atlanta 1996, inspired her to get into the sport.
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I started playing beach volleyball before I started playing indoor volleyball, which is not the norm and an unorthodox way of getting started in the sport, but a lot of that was an influence from my dad who played for the Chilean national team.
“When he came to Canada he started coaching beach volleyball and his team went to the Atlanta 1996 Olympics and they won a bronze medal there. I was four years old when my dad coached this team to a bronze medal at the Olympics.”
At a very young age, beach volleyball, the Olympic journey, and the Olympic dream were influencing my life. That’s how I got started and that’s what sparked my journey in the game.
Sacrifices of a professional athlete
Winning the World Championship is one of the biggest feats of a professional beach volleyball athlete, but many sacrifices have to be made to reach that level of success. Melissa pointed out that missing time with loved ones is one of them.
“Being a pro is not easy. There are times when I enjoy it and some moments when I don’t, just like how people do with their jobs.
It’s grueling and there’s a lot of work that happens behind the scenes. It’s a privilege in itself and I feel very lucky to be able to do this. It’s not easy being a professional athlete because we sacrifice a lot in pursuing a goal. It’s a selfish endeavor because we are working towards our goals and dreams. We have a team of people surrounding us and they are also helping us to get to our goal.
“I think sometimes those dreams can get in the way of other things. You miss a lot of social and family interactions. You just miss time with people which you would never really get back and sometimes that realization hits me hard.”
We were very honest and vulnerable with each other, but never for a second did we doubt ourselves. We acknowledged the feelings, the feelings that we were having, but we stayed calm in those very high-pressure moments.
The fact that we maintained our cool and just were there for each other and knew that we had each other’s backs no matter what, that for me defined our team. After coming out of that situation on top, I knew that we were going to win the next game because I knew we had it in us.
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