Prolonging Your Adventure Volleyball Career Through the Appropriately Timed Use of the Word ‘Yes’ (as Well as Smiling, Cooking and Cleaning).

The United States of America, Mexico, Cuba, The Dominican Republic, The Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, France, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, India, Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Turkey, Tunisia, Australia and New Zealand.

This short list of beautiful countries represents all of the stamps on my personal Volleyball Passport. I have either coached or played at the professional level in each of these places. I have crossed some other borders too but in those cases, volleyball wasn’t the main goal so they don’t make this list.

Since graduating from George Mason University in 2008, I have managed to make my way through more than 25 countries and the majority of the USA solely on volleyball’s ticket. I’ve used a combination of playing and coaching both indoor and beach to fuel this 8 year joyride. However, like most of the players at my level, my number one concern through the years has been balancing my income with training time and travel costs. Somehow, I’ve found a way to make it work despite mediocre finishes across the board.

Let’s keep in mind that for most of that time I never had more than 10 grand to my name and I usually hovered somewhere between $1,500 and $4,000. These next facts may be hard to grasp but I didn’t even have a permanent place of residence or a vehicle until 9 months ago. Some people might call me a vagabond but I prefer the title, Adventure V-baller. While I’m not in a position that the average person would consider financially secure, I DO take pride in the fact that I am bursting-at-the-seams rich in experiences, stories, free time, friends and family. My perma-smile goes ear to ear!

I’ll take this space to share some tips and a couple anecdotes that might be of some use if you’re interested in the Adventure Volleyball Lifestyle.

# 1 – Leave every place in life better off than when you found it. If you want to pursue volleyball full time and you are not one of the top 20 players in the world, you are going to have to cut some financial corners. AKA, get comfortable sleeping on couches instead of hotel beds. The key to sustainability here is getting invited back! There is a very limited number of tolerable, geographically feasible couches for each tournament site. Don’t burn those bridges by leaving a mess! Fold your blankets, put your dirty sheets near the washer machine and reorganize all of those ridiculous throw pillows. While you’re at it, clean the dishes (not just yours) and throw out the garbage. Good deeds and selflessness stick out in people’s minds. Leave their home more beautiful than you found it and your couch surfing host will be stoked to have you back next July!

# 2 – Learn to cook a signature dish. This is still along the vein of being a great guest. Find a dish that you love to cook and that other people love to eat. Make a big meal for your hosts and their friends. Be sure to come up with a super catchy name. Something like “Mark’s Chili” will generate some excitement and definitely make a huge deal out of it. Three years ago I competed on the pro tour in Australia and I spent two months living in Sydney. Every Monday would be “Mark’s Chili Night” and after the first two weeks it got so popular that half of the players in Manly Beach would be in attendance. For me, those dinners were a chance to get closer with the fellas and, occasionally, persuade the better players to run a tournament with me (wink, wink). I now consider those dinner guests among my best friends. To this day we still set each other up with places stay and people to train with around the world! Just remember; like the great philosopher, Homer, once said, “You don’t win friends with salad.”

# 3 – Smile! Hosts, potential partners, travel buddies and even tournament organizers tend to enjoy the company of people who are happy. Am I right?! So stay in high spirits, be social and shake hands. Aww, you just lost big? Tough. Now don’t lose out on your next opportunity. Find a way to get out of that funk and rejoin society. I recently got to play a tournament in Austria. The organizers allowed Derek Olson and me to take the ‘Wild Card’ spot because we “have a very California beach volleyball look and sponsors love that.” All it took was an email, a polished up volleyball resume’ and a couple JPEGs! Anyway, we lost bad but that’s not the point. Rather than sulking, we got out to the players’ parties and the dinners and really hit if off with the other players and the organizers. In short, we put on our smiles and we now have an open invite for next year that includes training, accommodations and meals!!!

# 4 – Get comfortable saying ‘YES’ to new and even strange opportunities. A few years back, I was coaching club volleyball and awaiting two surgeries in New York when I received an email that changed my life. My name had been recommended by several people to Mitchell Sadowsky with Gold Medal Squared. Mitch, who I had never met, sent me an email asking if I would be interested in stepping in to help him run a month-long coaching seminar and training camp that started 3 weeks later. The only caveat was that it was taking place in Chennai, India. I knew immediately how many commitments and appointments I would have to change. I knew that I would be asking big favors of people to cover all my domestic coaching responsibilities.  All of those the problems and ALL of those roadblocks were cycling through my mind until I showed my oldest brother the email. Rather flatly but with some force, he said, “You know you’re saying ‘YES.”  I knew immediately that he was right. I knew I could cross all the other bridges when I came to them but the first thing I had to do was say ‘YES.’

That little notch on my resume’ has gotten me more playing and coaching opportunities than I could have possibly foreseen. In the last 5 years, as part of the beach volleyball vacation company BeachCamp®, I’ve spent 25 weeks living and coaching on all-inclusive resorts while also training against top-level international players.

All of this experience led me to starting VolleyCamp Hermosa which provides accommodations and elite training in Hermosa Beach for beach volleyball players from around the world. Now I am the one who gets to play host for anyone looking to take their game to the next level!!

REMEMBER! Every time you say ‘YES’ to an opportunity, it leads to more opportunities.


Another AVP season has come to an end and with it we have some open ended stories. New stars, family teams, seasoned champs and of course, the grinders. If you missed out on any tournaments last season, don’t make that mistake again. Come out and see the sickest athletes in the country. Play and watch our beautiful sport. Say ‘YES’ to adventures, to volleyball, to growing the game and to The AVP. See you at the beach!

Mark ‘Bu’ Burik

Adventure V-baller

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VolleyCamp Hermosa
Pacific Coast Highway
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

Tel: (234) 752-9824
Email: [email protected]