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Pan American Games

Mark Burik-Ian Satterfield, Karissa Cook-Jace Pardon Qualify for Pan American Games

Mark Burik-p1440

MANHATTAN BEACH — Mark Burik remembered, with a mix of incredulity and comedy, the trials for the last Pan American Games, in 2015. It was him, Ian Satterfield, Miles Evans, and a few other guys he couldn’t recall off the top of his head. Curt Toppel skipped it for work.

Jeff Alzina, then coaching for USA Volleyball, now the beach coach at Santa Clara University, ran them through half a practice. Just some drills. Based off that, USA would select a blocker and a defender and send them off to Toronto to compete in – uh, what exactly were the Pan American Games, anyway?

“The U.S.A.,” Burik said, “doesn’t know anything about the Pan Ams.”

Didn’t know that, in 2015, it would be a festival of 6,132 athletes from 40-plus countries to compete in 364 events across 36 sports. Didn’t know that, essentially, it’s a mini-Olympic Games. One could say it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, only Burik has now had it twice. He skipped the first time, when the U.S. offered to send him and Toppel.

And then, when Evans and Satterfield returned instead, and “they told all the stories from the athletes’ village and I was like ‘It’s the Olympics?’ And they said ‘Yeah, it’s the Olympics for half the world,’” Burik recalled. “This time I was like ‘You know what, it seemed then like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.’”

On Wednesday afternoon, after a pair of gusty qualifier days, which featured pool play and then a single-elimination tournament – a bit different from the half-a-practice-then-selection process from 2015 – Burik earned his second once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in this mini-Olympics. He and Satterfield went undefeated in pool play and, after a bye, won both elimination round matches, beating Tim Brewster and Mike Boag and Miles and Marcus Partain, who had upset Evans and Billy Kolinske in the other semifinal.

This time, he wasn’t going to pass it up, despite the July 26-August 11 dates conflicting with the AVP Hermosa Open, despite that tournament being Burik’s home beach, and the fact that it’s worth double the points.

Once-in-a-lifetime only happens so often. Could he really pass it up again?

“Even though it’s Hermosa, even though it’s the home tournament, there’s no money, which sucks, there’s no [FIVB] points, which sucks, and [Hermosa is] a gold event, which sucks, but it’s like you know what, whatever, 2,000 bucks from the AVP? I’ll make 2,000 bucks when I’m done playing volleyball,” Burik said. “But I will not be able to go to a mini-Olympics again.”

So on July 26, he will, as will Karissa Cook and Jace Pardon, who might just be the hottest team in the country right now, be in Lima, Peru, representing the U.S. Just three days removed from winning their first AVPs, Cook and Pardon earned their spot into the Pan American Games, beating Pepperdine’s Brook Bauer and Stanford’s Charlie Ekstrom in the finals.

“This is the best opportunity we have to get big time sponsors,” Burik said. “I was like ‘Ian, we are going to send out 2,000 emails these next two weeks.’”

Whatever it takes to not miss out on a second once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.