If you’ve ever seen a large crowd of people over six feet tall walking through the streets of Adelaide, it’s most likely the men and women who make up the Adelaide Storm volleyball teams, South Australia’s franchise in the Australian Volleyball League (AVL).
This year, Adelaide Storm’s men’s team have a new recruit, Harrison Peacock, a South Aussie volleyballer who’s been an integral part of Australia’s national team for almost a decade. During this time, Harrison has played all over the world – most notably in the 2012 London Olympics.
Harrison far right with the Australian national team
Harrison is excited to represent South Australia after years of travelling around the globe. “I’m really excited to play with my brother Cooper, who is also in the team travelling to Melbourne. It’s really great to be involved with South Australian volleyball again, and nice to have the chance to again compete with some of the people I grew up playing with as a kid.”
Harrison is confident Adelaide Storm have the potential do great things in this year’s AVL. “We have a strong playing group with a lot of depth of skill and experience, so I’m confident we will be able to perform against the best teams in the competition.”
Representing his country as a professional athlete has been a life-changing experience for Harrison. “Qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics has been my greatest achievement. We were a young and inexperienced team and no one really expected us to qualify but we defied the odds and managed to earn a spot. We then went on to win two of five matches, defeating the hosts Great Britain and the world number 3 at the time, Poland. It was a really exciting time of my career and something I will never forget.”
But it’s not all about volleyball, Harrison says, life lessons a big part of his appreciation for the sport.
“I’ve experienced many different cultures. Each trip I learn something new about the places we’re visiting and about the different ways of life. It’s taught me to be patient, tolerant and respectful, and to enjoy all the little experiences. It’s also taught me how to work well with others, work under pressure and helped me to realise what is important in life.”
But it hasn’t all been about the highs, Harrison experiencing the nightmare that most athletes dread – a severe injury. In 2013, he was diagnosed with hip dysplasia, with severe damage to the joints in both hips. “I had five different operations over six months to correct the problem and fix the damage caused. I was unable to walk for an extended period and it was unclear if I would be able to run again, let alone play volleyball.” But he defeated the odds, getting back to playing volleyball in April 2014.
The 2018 Adelaide Storm men’s team
It’ll be an adjustment, with Harrison used to international play, where volleyball players are often recognised in the streets. While the fame can be gratifying, the lifestyle takes its toll. “When playing professionally, you are being paid to perform, so everything you do is aimed towards performance. You’re constantly thinking about the fact that your income depends on your performance and at any stage the club can fire you and your income is gone.”
The time away from home is also a strain, often away from home and family for the majority of the year. “We play for professional teams in Europe in the Australian summer and travel with the national team during the winter, with only a few weeks free during the year to spend at home.”
Now, it’s a whole different ball-game, so to speak. “I feel the pressure of my friends and family being there to watch and the desire to show them what we can do as individuals and as a team. A lot of the volleyball we play is unknown to our family and friends because it is so hard to watch and follow from the other side of the world. We really want to make the most of the opportunities we do get to play in Australia.”
While playing overseas overs financial gain, Harrison says there are different benefits to playing locally. “It’s more about enjoying the experience and enjoying playing volleyball with a bunch of mates.” That’s what sport is all about, right?
The Adelaide Storm men’s and women’s team are set to compete in the AVL from the 7th– 9thof December in Melbourne against competing franchise teams from all around Australia.