Long process pays off for Olympic volleyball player Murphy Troy

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Murphy Troy is part of a third-generation St. Louis University High School family, following the footsteps of his grandfather, father and uncles. His older brother, Phineas, went there as well.

The extended SLUH family will be paying attention as he plays for the U.S. men's volleyball team in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. A graduate of the University of Southern California in 2011, he was a national college player of the year in volleyball. Since then, he has competed on the U.S. men's volleyball team and in 2015 finished as the Polish league's leading scorer and helped his team, Lotos Trefl Gdansk, place second in the league championship.

His roots haven't left him, however. "My Catholic education was a huge part of my childhood, and my experiences at Mary Queen of Peace and at St. Louis U. High have made me the person I am today," he said. "I am still thankful every day for the opportunities they have provided for me, especially the many faithful people who have taught me how to be a man for others."

His journey as an athlete taught him that anything — almost, anyway — is possible. "OK, maybe I would have never made the Olympics as a basketball player or in the 100m dash, but I've learned that if you're persistent and tenacious, you will eventually win your fight. It may take a new approach, a new mindset, or a lot of grunt work, but if you truly want something badly enough, go after it and don't stop."

The support from St. Louisans has meant a lot to him, he said, noting that "I am extremely excited that I get to be one of those people who St. Louisans can root for."

His dad, John Troy, said that "my wife and I are really supporters of same-sex, Catholic high school education particularly. We're very, very happy how St. Louis U. High molds the boys into responsible and caring citizens of the world."

High school years are probably the most important in a child's development in terms of maturing as a responsible adult, he said, adding that SLUH's motto of developing 'Men for Others' has stuck with his sons.

A National Merit scholar at SLUH, Murphy was undecided on his major at the University of Southern California. His parents told him to pick something that he enjoys. He picked physics — not too surprising since he had an interest in science and engineering.

Murphy's volleyball exploits began with a CYC team in the third grade at Mary Queen of Peace — a lucky break as it turns out that the Webster Groves parish had a volleyball program — and he also played soccer and basketball through grade school. He then played on the CYC's select team and High Performance club team. Ten years ago, as a junior in high school, he went to Chicago to try out for the U.S. Volleyball national team. He's been playing for USA teams every summer in international tournaments.

"It's definitely a 10-year process to get elected to the U.S. Olympic team," John said.

Murphy's parents saw him play several times in college and have seen him a little less often since he's been playing professionally half the year in Europe. "The distance is difficult, but that's part of the deal," John said.

He found out that his son made the Olympic team on Father's Day, a surprise because the coach earlier had planned on waiting to make the announcement after the world league championship tournament ended July 3. "It was a great relief and a great Father's Day gift not to have to sweat it out," John said.

He's enjoyed seeing Murphy play in contests against other countries, the support of the U.S. fans waving the flag and chanting as well as the promotion of international good will. Murphy's been playing volleyball in Italy, France and Poland for five years, and he knows a lot of the international players. "So the world becomes smaller," John said, "as we go to tournaments and see people from other countries we've developed relationships with over the years."

John, who works on sets at the Muny and is head of the art department at Lindenwood University, and his wife, Sally Miller, a retired elementary school counselor in the Kirkwood School District, will miss the first three matches but are hoping to see five or six into the medals round after they arrive in Rio. The gold medal round is on the closing day of the Olympics. 

Murphy Troy

Volleyball

Position: Opposite

Height: 6-8

Age: 27

Hometown parish: Mary Queen of Peace, Webster Groves

High School: St. Louis University High School

College: USC (Physics, '11)

Other Career Highlights

• Helped the U.S. Men win the 2015 FIVB World Cup and qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games

• Named 2011 AVCA Men's Division I-II National Player of the Year and MPSF Player of the Year

• Helped the U.S. Men win the gold medal at the 2013 NORCECA Championship

• Was the third-leading scorer for the U.S. Men's Team that won the 2012 Pan American Cup

• Played on the team that won silver at the 2011 Pan American Cup

• Received the 2010-11 Pac-10 Tom Hansen Conference Medal for the exhibition of the greatest combination of performance and achievement in scholarship, athletics and leadership

• Helped his SLUH team to the 2007 Missouri Class 4 State Volleyball Championship

• 2007 Volleyball Magazine All-American first team, Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 list and St. Louis Post-Dispatch All-Metro Player of the Year

Personal: Born Murphy Edward Troy in 1989 in St. Louis ... Favorite book is Catcher in the Rye ... Favorite sports team is the St. Louis Cardinals and favorite athlete is Albert Pujols ... Hobbies include basketball and football ... Most admired person is his mother 

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