Biography:

After discovering beach volleyball as summer training for her indoor university career, Heather Bansley first represented Canada at the 2007 Junior World Championship before joining the national team and starting a partnership with Elizabeth Maloney that took them to the 2011 Pan Am Games in Guadalajara where they finished fifth. The duo then helped earn Canada an Olympic berth for London 2012 but lost out on the spot at the national trials. That disappointment motivated her to never leave Olympic qualification to chance again. Following Maloney’s retirement in 2013 due to a knee injury, Bansley partnered with Sarah Pavan, a convert from the indoor game who was looking to fulfill her Olympic dream. Now Canada’s top-ranked team, they enjoyed a breakout season in 2015, reaching their first World Tour podium with their second place finish at the Prague Open in May. They went on to earn Canada’s first ever FIVB Major Series medal for women in Porec, Croatia, finishing second. Third place finishes followed at the Major Series in Gstaad, Switzerland and the Grand Slam in Yokohama, Japan. Bansley and Pavan also posted Canada’s best ever women’s result at the world championships with their fifth place finish. Bansley finished the season as the top women’s scorer in Major Series events. After closing the 2015 season with a fourth place finish at the FIVB World Tour Finals, Bansley and Pavan reached two more podiums in 2016, winning bronze at the Moscow Grand Slam and another silver at the Porec Major Series. At Rio 2016, Bansley and Pavan advanced to the quarterfinals, matching Canada’s best ever Olympic result in women’s beach volleyball with their fifth place finish.

Getting to know…

Family: Parents Doug Bansley and Ann Liebeck… Older brothers Mark and David… Twin brother Andrew… Getting into the Sport: Began playing indoor volleyball in high school… Started playing beach at age 20 because U of T coach Kristine Drakich was an advocate of beach volleyball as summer training… As a shorter player, she relied on ball control and athleticism, better suiting her to the beach game… Outside Interests: Enjoys reading (autobiographies and memoirs) and playing board games on the road… While training in California picked up paddle boarding and surfing… Loves to cook at home, believing that food has the power to heal and bring joy… Interested in holistic and sport nutrition… Assistant coach with a U-18 girls club team in Toronto (Leaside)… Graduated from University of Toronto with Honours Bachelor of Arts in English and Linguistics in 2010… Odds and Ends: Nickname: Hez… Inspired by goaltender Carey Price for his composure and confidence on the ice during Sochi 2014 which made her a Montreal Canadiens fan… Each year has a lucky bathing suit that gives her extra confidence when she’s especially nervous for a match… Started a mug collection from the countries she’s visited… Favourite quote: “Compassion is the radicalism of our time.” – Dalai Lama…