BR Volleys defending the championship title this season has a lot to do with the heart of the team, with Sergej Grankin and Ben Patch. They’re the stars – they have been, and they’re both leaving the club. Patch is taking a breather, as the dazzling American explains in a true love letter.
Benjamin Patch will be with fans of German volleyball champion BR Voles until the end of the year – on the wall of their living room. With pictures of him and him, in the annual calendar of the Berlin club. Patch photographed his teammates away from the orange pitch surface at Max Schmeling Halle. The photos are an expression of the artistic talent of the 27-year-old. one of several. Some may have a piece of pottery art at home. Another expression of his passion.
On the other hand, he turned his back on his sports passion, volleyball. The new season, which begins in October, will take place without a patch. “I decided to take a break from volleyball,” the American wrote in a message published by the Volleys website. The fans, but above all the team, of course, will miss him. After the departure of Serge Grankin, the air balls lose the second part of their well-rehearsed axis, their core.
The captain returns to his Russian homeland – perhaps not entirely voluntarily. “It was a very difficult decision for him, but the political and family circumstances make it difficult for him to engage abroad again,” Managing Director Kwah Niromand said of the 37-year-old Olympic champion. And now the second blow. “It’s a situation we didn’t expect at the beginning of the year. They both still have contracts for next season, and we’ve made aggressive plans with them,” Neromand said. “Their motives are completely different and understandable. We have tried everything with Ben, but we also accept his decision.”
“I’m afraid of this break”
It’s a decision that the correction clearly did not take lightly. The animated fonts he wrote already prove it. About his love for sports, for the club, for Berlin. “I don’t know if it’s over forever, but it’s a career that needs a break because I feel like I’ve lost a little bit of the fun of volleyball and the purity of the sport I love so much,” Patch justifies by way of. “I see nothing wrong with taking a new direction. I want to live a life of discovery and success and failure. You can be sure: I’m afraid of that break. It’s hard to let go of everything, or at least most of it, what you know. But I want to dream and do things a lot “.
He has already done a lot so far, Bach is the most distinguished professional in the Bundesliga. His height of 2.03 meters is not particularly conspicuous in volleyball, his tattoos are more, his hair is dyed blond from time to time, his nails painted. Athletic’s amazing jumping ability makes him one of the best Qatari strikers. He is alleged to have reached 3.80 meters on tiptoe when he appeared to stay in the air as a “jumping miracle”. He was the top scorer in the playoffs last season.
He does fashion design, studied design and ceramics in addition to sports, and has a studio where he offers courses in ceramics. He is a talented dancer and takes pictures, like his teammates on the annual tournament calendar. Upon its launch, he said athletes can be much more “than just someone wearing a T-shirt”. And here comes his passion: “When I look at the photos I take for my team, I see them as I really see them. Their personalities, their smiles, the wrinkles around their eyes. Their beauty and their goodness.” The proceeds from the calendar go to the Berliner Stadtmission, a foundation for the needy and the homeless. Social commitment is also important to Patch. When war broke out in Ukraine, he helped at the main train station in Berlin and, with his colleague Cody Kessel, also organized accommodations for refugees and transported people to their sleeping quarters.
It’s all part of the 27-year-old’s face, including the fact that he’s pretty eccentric. It’s just part of his personality, that’s how Patch sees it. But the sports world is so openly lacking in gay men that when he spoke to Tagesspiegel about it in October 2020, an echo that was incomprehensible to him followed, telling RBB in July 2021: “The fact that I said that at the time was as usual for me as If I were talking about my favorite chewing gum.”
Hopes to stay in Berlin
He’s an extrovert, he’s a free spirit, a guy who lives his passion, he just wants to be himself. It is used to attract attention. As an adopted child, he was raised with white parents in the Mormon-influenced US state of Utah – with twelve siblings, strictly according to Mormon beliefs. When he was three, the family moved to the island of Tonga for six years before returning to the United States. He was bullied at school when he was twelve because he was a fan of volleyball, which is not a boys sport. Since there was no men’s team, he initially played in the girls’ team. “The players were great and I wanted to be like them,” he said. He does his work in sports and in private life, because he learns to marry a woman as soon as he reaches adulthood, but he goes out not only with women, but also with men. He does not allow himself to stop, neither by private life nor by sports, to become a professional, moving to the Italian league, where he does not feel free in the conservative south of Italy, and finally to Berlin in 2018.
A stroke of luck for the club and patch. Together they won three championship titles and also took the cup in 2020. The fact that it is the way he has to deal with the club and the city. “When I first came to Berlin, I was a sad version of myself, it was a difficult period,” he told RBB. And in his letter he now writes: “But when I came to Berlin, I felt accepted and loved by the management, the fans and the reporters who are now my friends. (…) When I needed support or was sad, there was always someone from BR Volleys, be it fans. or administrators or their teammates.” His message is also a love letter.
“I don’t want to play volleyball anywhere else, only BR Volleys or I don’t want to play at all,” Patch said. He proved it when he extended his contract in Berlin despite offers from successful clubs abroad. But now he doesn’t want to play. In addition to all of his activities, he’s also set up an interior design and architecture studio with others, a project he now wants to invest “all of his time and energy,” he writes. He wants to stay in Berlin, the city that welcomed him that way. “If Germany wants me,” Bach said, because as an American he needs a residence permit.
Security loses it with its broken attacks. “Now I’m totally afraid of what’s coming next and I think that’s normal for athletes as well because we usually only do one thing.” At the age of 27 he left his comfort zone, but only as a player. I will “always do my best to be a part of this club and to help socially, economically, politically and in every other way possible. I plan to remain as an ambassador, as a friend, as part of this family.” And perhaps back again, his contract, which was originally valid until 2024, will only be suspended. They would obviously be happy to meet him again. I’ve made it into the living room for many a fan.