Imagine sitting near an empty stage, waiting for your friends and the main act to begin, before opening up an email and almost losing the ability to breathe from excitement. 

That was me Saturday night. 

As part of Backstreet’s Back at the Beach in Cancun, fans were given an opportunity to place their name in for a drawing to participate in a number of activities including a volleyball tournament, Surf and Serve, with Nick Carter. I had put my name in for a few events, but had not won. Nick’s event was my last chance, and with my favorite BSB. 

We had spent the day Saturday watching events and playing by the pool. We grabbed some dinner and I headed back to the after party area earlier than my roommates. They were on their way, but I was bored. After multiple days of social interaction with tons of people, pulling out my phone to catch up on email sounded like a good plan. 

When I opened my email, there it was, right at that top: Congratulations, you have been chosen for Surf and Serve with Nick! 

What? 

I was shaking. I was thrilled. I was terrified.

Of course the initial reaction was “this is amazing and I am so excited” and all the other joyful things one can think. The more I thought about it, the more the worry crept in. 

One thing that has been hard for me in recent years is physical activity.  Without getting too deep, I have a few medical conditions which impact my ability to do a number of physical activities. 

Volleyball was not on the list of approved activities.

I considered my options. Backing out and watching from the audience. Pushing through. Going and just keeping things light. Not going at all. 

In the end, my excitement over the possibility of spiking a volleyball to Nick Carter won, and I decided to do it. 

That next morning, I went to the check out location and ran into a friend who had also been chosen. I stuck close to her, feeling nervous about what to expect. Thankfully, she’s much more go with the flow so it evened me out. We waited a full 30 minutes past check in alongside the other 22 participants who had been called on without any staff coming to check us in.  

That’s when we all got a bit nervous. Where we in the right place? Surely we were considering ALL of us were there. 

Thankfully one of the other participants had a friend with her who went down to the beach where the volleyball courts were to check and see what was going on. She sent a text message a few minutes later saying that check in was actually at the beach. We all groaned in frustration, since we each had an email saying otherwise, and grumbled that they better not have given our spots away. 

We traipsed around the pool, this way and that, searching for a way down to the beach in a line of solidarity. We were going to make it one way or another. 

We reached an opening in the wall that led to the beach and all headed down, asking immediately where to go. We were directed to a tent where staff was waiting and we were all able to check in. All of our spots were still secure.

As they checked everyone in, they gave each of us a set of wristbands with a color on it. My friend and I both got blue bands, securing a spot on the same team. As we looked around for our group, we wondered what exactly we were in for with this match.  

After bringing us a full bucket of water and reminding us to stay hydrated, they explained that we would all be in teams of 6 and that Nick would rotate in to each team so that everyone had a chance to play with him. They asked us to pick a team name and naturally, we chose Black and Blue. We introduced ourselves to each other and began strategizing. It was clear that most of us were there to play and win. 

Team Black and Blue hit the court to get some stretches and practice in. As we headed to our area, I heard screams from the crowd yelling my name. Tons of my friends were there, waiting for the games to begin, AKA for Nick to arrive. I felt the love as they cheered us on. 

Our team worked together to try to remember how to even play volleyball. A few team members had some solid experience, but had not played for years. Others had no clue how to spike the ball. We tossed the ball back and forth a few times, practicing serves and bumps, before Nick rolled up with his crew in a golf cart. 

We stopped practicing momentarily, we needed to get back to business after all, and watched as Nick joined the crowd, high-fiving and hand slapping the fans as he ran through the perimeter of the court. He jumped on the mic for a bit, welcoming everyone to the event, asking us how Cancun had treated us so far, and getting us hyped for our last day with the boys in Cancun. After that, he did a quick check of the rules of volleyball (wasn’t this game HIS idea??) and then introduced himself to some of the teams. He joined one team for the first match, and off we went. 

The first match was Red against Blue, and White against Green, which Nick on the Green team. Our game did not involve Nick, which gave us a chance to play and focus on the actual game. This is when we realized how competitive a few of us were going to be. A little friendly competition on the beach never hurt anyone, right?

Sadly, we couldn’t get our groove together and we lost the first match, badly. But it gave us some information on what we needed to do differently. 

After a short break, and the other game ending, we switched sides on our court and Nick joined the Red team, to become our opposition. 

Not going to lie, I was in the zone with the game, trying to make sure I wasn’t a total flop. Yes, I noticed Nick there, but the typical Nick butterflies were overtaken by competitive lions. I was dead set on the ball. 

And yes, that is Nick pulling silly faces all over my bathing suit. And he laughed at it. 

We started out strong, winning several points and then evening out. We were pretty neck and neck through most of the game. Nick was diving around the court, yelling for the ball, trying to knock it over the net, laughing when we couldn’t. He genuinely looked like he was having a great time. 

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Of course the heat was getting to me and given my own physical limitations, I was getting a bit nervous. Wh