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A@N for Wednesday, April 1, 2015 Former pro athlete Bryce Barry talks about her new book on the lives of high-performance athletes; rancher Wynne Chisholm talks about women in the agriculture industry.

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SPORTS » FEATURES

March 26, 2015

More Than Medals analyzes the arc of sporting success.

New book by a former pro athlete details the journey to excellence.

By Dan Falloon

Looking past the podium. Former pro beach volleyball player Bryce Barry recently released More Than Medals a book detailing the career span of pro athletes. Barry interviewed over 30 athletes in 24 sports for the book

Bryce Barry originally envisioned her book More Than Medals as being biographies of her subjects.

However, when the former FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour player got to the heart of what she was really trying to say with the book, she realized that approach wouldn’t fully plumb the depths of an athlete’s whole story, especially if they’ve struggled to accomplish what they have.

“I wanted something different,” she said. “Most sports non-fiction is biographical stories about athletes and dates and ages of everything. That just seems to be very prevalent and that makes the stories kind of obsolete even if you don’t want them to be.

“You look at them like, ‘What do I have in common with someone at the (1988) Seoul Olympics? For me, I wanted to lose the ages and the dates and talk more about the feelings and the stories and the athletes.”

More Than Medals is a comparing and contrasting project following over 30 athletes across two-dozen different sports. Those profiled reached pinnacles like the Olympics, Pan Am Games, Commonwealth Games or on various World Cup circuits. Barry spoke to three Sea to Sky athletes for the book: Whistler sailor Curtis Blewett, Squamish adventure racerJen Segger and late freestyle skier Sarah Burke.

Of course, Barry had her own trials and tribulations in her decade-long career.

The former FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour mainstay was more than just a participant in sports, but an involved researcher, paying close attention to not only pure facts and figures but the human aspects as well. She analyzed not only beach volleyball, but any sport she felt could give her some insight into her own approach, even tangentially.

Barry touches on her experiences in the preface and postscript, but ultimately lets her subjects carry the narrative. At one point during an interview, a subject suggested working on the book was her “therapy” after her competitive career was finished. She initially bristled, but eventually came to agree with the assessment.

“I felt like a lot of these athletes I spoke to, they got further than what I wanted (for myself). They accomplished goals that I wanted to accomplish for myself,” she said. “I feel I’ve got a pretty good idea of what it takes to be a pretty great athlete… the formula and the prep work… (but what) did I miss out on?”

More Than Medals logically explores the progression of a career, looking at the beginning, middle and end.

When she started the project, which took over four years to complete, Barry had a “dream list” of interviewees for the book but only knew a couple of them. She began the project with a couple of high-performance friends and grew the project organically, gaining connections from subjects who believed in the project.

In addition to helping her gain access, Barry said her profile as an athlete helped her while she was interviewing.

“I could ask them a lot of hard questions because I was in the middle of it as well,” she said. “For the majority of athletes, I could find the commonality with them and be a little bit more vulnerable myself.”

In particular, she recalled her interview with Paul Duerden, a National Team Volleyball Player — and one of the world’s top competitors — whose team was never able to make it through to the Olympics. “What I really wanted to do was ask him ‘Hey, you’re one of the best volleyball players in the world, how does it feel that you’ll never represent Canada at the Olympics?'” she recalled.

Duerden asked to get back to the question later in the interview, and Barry obliged with the gut feeling she’d get an honest answer. She added she felt she asked bolder questions later in the interviewing stage, as she had enough material for the book, and felt she could push a little harder to get additional golden nuggets without putting the project in jeopardy.

Athletes in different sports didn’t have as much interaction while she was in her career, she said, something she feels is changing with social media. She recalls being surprised that others faced some of the same challenges she did.

Barry said she and Burke talked extensively about some of the frustrations they experienced as participants in sports where women weren’t given equal access to high-quality coaching, in Barry’s case, or the sport was initially only recognized as being for men, in Burke’s.

Barry admired how Burke handled the frustrations with “a lightness” that she didn’t have herself.

“Getting to talk to someone that wasn’t on the record about women in sport, it helped me wrap up my career,” she said. “She… was bawling (with frustration) because they were trying to kick her and the girls to the side with their sport.

“She goes ‘It’s not like I can compartmentalize. I let it go and that’s that because I’ve got other things.'”

More Than Medals is available online at brycebarry.com and at Armchair Books Whistler and other select bookstores


Former Coast player provides perspective in new book

More Than Medals

Ian Jacques May 7, 2015 11:01 AM

Bryce Barry provides an inside perspective on the world of professional sports in her new book, More Than Medals.

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 is available at select bookstores and at www.brycebarry.com



The list of Canmore athletes featured in former pro athlete Bryce Barry’s new sports book is sure to tickle most local-minded sports enthusiasts’ fancy, but this isn’t your typical biography warns the author.

Barry, who used to play on the Canadian National Beach Volleyball team, wrote the non-fiction book, More Than Medals to give readers a glimpse into the inner workings of the athlete mind.

“Usually when we talk about athletes we talk about their win-loss ratio. That’s what’s at the forefront; the athletes are in the news because they’ve won, or because they should have won. I wanted a better idea of behind the scenes and what they go through.” said Barry.

The book features a number of seasoned athletes, including Canmore’s Chandra Crawford, Devon Kershaw and David Ford, but rather than focus on their accomplishments the book hones in on their doubts, their failures and their lessons learned.

‘I lost more than I won in my sport. I still got to play at the highest level. I didn’t achieve all of my goals, but I still got to walk away with things that were invaluable,’ said Barry.

She hopes that the lessons presented in the book will resonate with and inspire people from all walks of life and show the more human side of those that proudly represent our country on the world stage.

“The book follows the journey of being an athlete from beginning to end — how they got hooked and who were their role models, the messy middle part of defining success and dealing with doubt, and the lessons they will take with them when they leave their sport — weaving personal stories throughout the sections.”

“You can pick this up and see this is the journey you’re going to go through and it’s not dependent on what year this is or what sport this is… I was hoping this kind of structure would give it a bit more longevity,” said Barry.

More Than Medals models a scrapbook of sorts that the author used to carry around when she was younger, growing up in Sechelt, B.C. and still only dreaming of becoming a pro athlete.

“I always wanted to be a pro athlete but I don’t’ really know how to go about doing that. So the first book I ever made when I was younger were articles that I would rip out of sports magazines while I was getting my headgear braces put on in the dentist office,” said Barry with a laugh.

“That’s the book I took with me when I left Sechelt, B.C. and through the years of getting to be an athlete and heading to Toronto, getting on the National Team and getting to play all around the world for Canada I always carried that with me and added to it. This book is a better representation of that.”

michelle.ferguson@sunmedia.ca