Photo courtesy of Murphy Troy
Glendale boy goes global
October 21, 2016
Beginning his volleyball career in third grade, 8-year-old Murphy Troy, now a U.S. Volleyball Olympian, said he never imagined he would receive a bronze medal. Not just any medal, one that did not only represent his country, and more importantly, his home town. Troy grew up in Glendale, right by Kirkwood, and attended Mary Queen Of Peace Catholic School for primary school until high school at St. Louis University High School (SLUH).
“I was just a kid playing recreationally,” Troy said. “I played [most sports]: baseball, soccer, swimming. I didn’t get serious about volleyball until I was in high school, around sophomore or junior year.”
After attending SLUH for four years, Troy went to the University of Southern California (USC) on a college volleyball scholarship. While playing in college, Troy received more national recognition, which led to his worldwide success.
“I like [volleyball] because it’s such a fast-paced game,” Troy said. “It’s something that’s really hard to master; there’s always skill changes you need to make.”
Troy always dreamed of becoming a professional athlete. He realized he could achieve that dream when he was a senior at SLUH playing on the U.S. Youth National Team, one year before he devoted himself to his career even further at USC.
“He got a volleyball and academic scholarship to USC,” Sally Miller, mother of Troy and retired Robinson Elementary School counselor, said. “50 percent volleyball and 50 percent academic because that was all that was available.”
Once he graduated, Troy went across the Atlantic Ocean to continue his career in western Europe. According to Troy, volleyball gets minimal recognition in the U.S., while European volleyball is the equivalent to U.S. football.
“Since I graduated college, I’ve been playing professionally in Europe because [there are] really no leagues in the U.S. and you can’t play just
national team [all of the time because] the national league is only in the summer,” Troy said. “So everyone [plays] in the professional leagues throughout Europe during the rest of the year. [I’ve] played for two years in Italy, one year in France and two years in Poland.”
On top of traveling to another continent to play professional sports, Troy and his teammates spend up to eight hours per day in the gym, working with weights and training on the court in game scenarios. They also watch video footage of their games to analyze their previous performances and how to improve for future games.
“I have no problem with it,” Miller said. “They are also great places to visit, I’ve been to Paris, Italy and Poland.”
After years of preparation, Troy finally got his chance in the Olympics when he was 27 years old. He went to Rio as a backup opposite, which means he would sit on the bench until he got called into play. An opposite meant he would be on the counter side to the setter, or server, and call out plays. When he was put into the games, he left not only as a bronze medalist but as a completely different player and person, Troy said.
“It was an amazing experience and something everyone tells you how great it is,” Troy said. “I don’t think you can ever really prepare for it before you go just because the magnitude of everything is so great, and you see all these great athletes from all around the world. Walking in the opening ceremony was amazing and [playing in the tournament]. It’s just such a high pressure tournament. It’s all the best teams in the world. It’s so competitive [but] I think it helps elevate everyone’s game. For us especially, I think we were playing our best volleyball we’ve ever played together.”
Troy aided his U.S. team in earning the bronze medal, defeating Russia in the last three of their five sets. With their loss in the first two, he said it was difficult to come back, especially in this case because of all the extra pressure.
“I always say, it takes a village to raise a volleyball player,” Miller said. “Murphy was blessed with a lot of people that supported him. He loves to learn, he’s willing to ask for help, he understands that mistakes are his best learning tool. and I think for him that’s what made him a successful athlete.”