Cayman volleyball feels it will be positively affected by Martin Reader’s recent retirement.
The Canadian superstar competed on Grand Cayman’s Public Beach several times over the years for North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation events. For officials like Carl Brown of the Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation, the result is a permanent link between these shores and Olympic talent.
“We, in the federation, will miss him,” Brown said. “He enriched the experience. The last time he was here, he went on to qualify for the Olympics. That will not be forgotten, it’s part of his legacy.
“We would like to think part of his Olympic success is due to his Cayman experience.”
Reader, 28, was here last March for the NORCECA 2012 tour opener. Alongside partner and 2011 champion Joshua Binstock, Reader would earn the bronze medal for third place and take home US$750.
From there, he would compete in the NORCECA 2012 Continental Cup and qualify for the 2012 London Olympics with Binstock. Last summer, the duo reached the round of 16. Both men would then grace the Madawaska junior volleyball camp in Canada, which saw 12 Caymanian kids who were sent by the volleyball federation.
Cayman competed in the Continental Cup, but was eliminated in Central America. The women’s team of Cristin Alexander, Jennifer Bily, Taylor Burrowes and Stefania Gandolfi placed fifth in Mal Pais, Costa Rica while the men’s squad of Richard Campbell, Philippe Deslandes, Shervin Rankin and Olney Thompson were out of the top five in Montelimar, Nicaragua.
Most of those players stormed home soil for the Cayman leg of the Continental Cup back in December 2011. Those spikers made history as the national men’s and women’s beach volleyball teams advanced past the initial stage of Olympic qualification for the first time.
Reader states his retirement does not mean he will stop being involved in volleyball.
“It has been an honour to represent Canada on an international competitive level,” Reader said. “I have learned so many valuable lessons through my experience with Volleyball Canada and I am eager to share them with the community.
“Supporting beach and building awareness for the sport will continue to be a focus for me and I can’t wait to cheer from the sidelines as our talented young athletes push for gold in the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games and 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.”
Reader has been part of Volleyball Canada’s national beach programme since 2006. A national team member for seven years, he was inspired by 1996 Olympic bronze medallists Mark Heese and John Child, his countrymen, to achieve the dream of representing Canada at the Olympic Games.
During his career, Reader played on the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball Beach Volleyball World Circuit and the FIVB World Tour with a variety of partners. Volleyball Canada President Hugh Wong states Reader’s influence will be long lasting.
“I am sure that the entire volleyball community in Canada wishes Martin well in his future pursuits,” Wong said. “On behalf of the board of directors, I would like to thank Martin for the dedicated service he has provided to the national beach volleyball team.
“We hope that he will continue to take an active role in Canadian volleyball.”
Cayman is gearing up for the 2013 NORCECA tour opener on 22-24 March. It will be the fifth consecutive year the tournament has kicked off here. There is expected to be US$16,000 in prize money on offer. Since joining the tour in 2009, Cayman has steadily attracted more teams, going from 17 sides the first year to 24 clubs in 2010, 40 teams in 2011 and finally 42 squads in 2012.
Brown states Reader is being invited to bring down other famous players.
“The reason for early retirements in this sport is due to the toil on the body. It’s not an easy sport. Martin has been here around three times. Once our saltwater hits you, it gets in your veins so he’s come to enjoy being in Cayman.
“I’m sure we can entice him to bring others down to experience Cayman, especially on the beach.”