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Pepperdine volleyball alumnus takes his game to new level
Volleyball is taking Tommy Carmody around the world.
Carmody, a Pepperdine men’s volleyball alumnus, finished his first professional season in May, playing for Valepa in Finland’s Champions League.
In June, the 6-foot-9 middle blocker made Team USA’s roster for the FIVB World League.
“This has been part of the plan since, pretty much, as soon as I started playing volleyball,” Carmody said. “Once I realized I could potentially play overseas as a pro, it’s been of my major goals.
“I’m getting to see a lot of cool places that people always talk about wanting to see, and I’m getting to play the game I love. It’s the ultimate experience.”
Carmody was one of 22 players selected to train with Team USA leading up to the beginning of the World League, a five-week-long tournament featuring 36 national teams.
He then made the final cut of 18 players who traveled to Serbia for the first round of group play. Carmody was in uniform for three matches, though he didn’t see any game action as Team USA went 0-3.
“It was great,” Carmody said. “Growing up through volleyball, you always look forward to and hope to put on a USA jersey. Having those three letters on your chest is so special.”
Carmody hopes it was just the start of his Team USA experience.
“I’d love to get another chance,” he said. “I know I have to keep working hard and keep improving because there are a lot of great players out there, but if I do, I’ll hopefully keep getting those opportunities.”
Carmody, a native of Orland Park, Illinois, had a highly successful but tumultuous college career.
After three big seasons at Pacific, including his junior year when he was named national Middle Blocker of the Year, the school dropped the volleyball program.
Carmody didn’t play in 2015 as he finished up his engineering degree at Pacific.
He then enrolled at Pepperdine for his final year of eligibility, playing one season as a graduate student and again being named Middle Blocker of the Year in 2016.
“Pacific dropping the program was really tough,” he said. “It was heartbreaking, because I loved playing there and I loved the team we had.
“It ended up being great, though, to get to have a whole different experience at Pepperdine. It’s a beautiful place and I loved playing for the coaches there.”
Carmody signed with Valepa and made his professional debut in August. The team went on to win the Finnish Champions League title and Carmody was named to the “Star Seven” as one of the Top 7 players in the league.
The league championship earned Valepa a spot in the CVE Cup, a tournament for top teams across Europe, where they advanced to the quarterfinals.
“That was a lot of fun,” Carmody said. “We got to play in Serbia, Denmark and Italy. It’s been really cool to play in all these different countries and see what volleyball is like there. Pretty much everywhere we’ve played in Europe, we get big crowds that love the sport.”
Carmody went overseas once for a volleyball tournament while in high school, but had otherwise not spent any other time traveling internationally. He’s relishing the opportunity do so now.
“It’s exciting to see different countries, different cultures, meet different people,” he said. “I’m glad I’ve got the chance to do this.”
As of the end of June, Carmody had yet to sign a contract with a team for the 2017-18 season. He’s weighing his options, but plans to play somewhere in Europe.
“The Finnish League is a good league, but there are some better ones out there in France, Poland and Italy,” he said. “Those would be nice to get into.
“Right now, I’m deciding what the best next step is. I just know that wherever I go, I have to keep working hard and getting better.”