HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. — Twice, Troy Field thought it must be a joke. The first came in December. Tri Bourne and I had posted our thoughts on who the next first-time winner on the AVP Tour would be, both of our picks being Field. Phil Dalhausser waded into the comment section of that post: “If you want a W,” he wrote to Field, “you know who to call.”

Field didn’t think anything of it.

Must be a joke, a fun note to write on social media, an excellent but otherwise innocuous way to draw buzz from fans. Surely, the Thin Beast wasn’t serious.

Months later, Field received a text from Chris Reames, the founder of the Slunks board shorts Field has worn since he began his professional career. Reames had a partner for him, he said.

“I said ‘All right, it’s probably some Laguna Beach guy who’s up and coming,’” Field recalled on SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter.

The 6-foot-4 Field didn’t even bother responding. Reames continued the conversation anyway.

“We’re texting, and he goes ‘He’s bald and has a gold medal,’” Field said, now laughing at the memory. “And I go ‘Reid Priddy wants to play with me?’ And he goes ‘No, Phil!’ I didn’t even think about it. It didn’t even cross my mind.”

These were no jokes: Phil Dalhausser wanted to play AVP Miami, and potentially more, with Troy Field. Those who know Field, and have known his brief and meteoric and somewhat volatile rise through the AVP, will understand how absurd that notion is. It’s why Field thought it must be a joke, and then a joke again.

It was only six years ago that Field, who played for Saddleback Community College, was playing in AA-rated CBVA tournaments with Joel Blocksom … and losing in those AA tournaments. That he was playing in AVP qualifiers, ranked as the 30 seed in the qualifier … and also losing in those qualifiers. But an enormous talent such as Field, with a vertical leap that is currently unmatched in America and an athleticism that verges on freakish, is harder to miss than it is to notice. Priddy noticed and partnered with Field for a trio of NORCECA events in 2018. They medaled in all three. Tim Bomgren noticed and, together, they became the AVP Breakthrough Team of the Year in 2019, making a final and two semifinals. Chase Budinger noticed and Field had what he considers his first year “really going for it” both domestically and internationally.

But there is still no truly prepping oneself for a call from Phil Dalhausser, the greatest blocker of this generation and, many would argue, the greatest American player of all time.

“I had to get his number from somebody, sent him a long text, and we committed to Miami and I was stoked,” Field said. “It’s one of those chances to play with someone who sees the game so well, a great opportunity and I’m super thankful.”

Troy Field-AVP Chicago
Troy Field/Rick Atwood photo

It is opportunities such as these that can keep a player’s career afloat. Beach volleyball is a notoriously difficult sport to sustain oneself financially. The pressure of that often ends a player’s career prematurely. After a 2022 season with Budinger that went good, not great, but was mostly disappointing, Field had questions for himself.

Over a long off-season, he wondered: Was this still the path for him?

“I was just trying to figure out life,” he said. “I didn’t really play a bunch of World Tour but it was my first year where I played a lot. But I was like man, it didn’t change my money. I did make more, which was great, but I was trying to find some sort of consistency. It is tough when you’re playing volleyball and you’re paying the bills and you’re a true professional volleyball player and I’m very fortunate that that is my job. But you think about bigger things, having a wife and kids, having a bigger house, but if you want to be month to month, rent forever, sure, you can play beach volleyball professionally. But I’m getting up there, I turned 29 in December, so the dirty 30 is around the corner. It’s terrifying. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do.

“I was thinking about taking a break, giving up on the Olympics and just playing domestic, pulling a Tim Bomgren. That’s where my brain was heading. Billy Allen and I were talking and he said why not just keep playing while building up a career path? Don’t just cold turkey. And Ty Tramblie is always like ‘You want to be a regular human? You want to be average? You want to put on a suit? You don’t want to be spectacular?’ He has a point.

“Talking to so many people who are successful and who have money and who have these things, they would trade that in a heartbeat. The talent, the ability, the skill, the health, there’s so many things we do on a day to day basis — yes the money we can talk about all day — but that’s a privilege in itself.”

When the American partnership shuffle finished, and Tri Bourne teamed with Chaim Schalk, Trevor Crabb with Theo Brunner, Budinger with Miles Evans, Evan Cory with Logan Webber, and Andy Benesh with Miles Partain, Field was the most notable name left out. Taylor Crabb had remained with Taylor Sander, and there was no one left with whom he could reasonably make an Olympic run. So he turned inward, focusing exclusively on himself, his own game, his own progress, his own improvement.

“I’m just trying to get as good as I can right now, and that’s been so much fun, instead of the balance that partnerships have, especially new partnerships,” Field said. “It’s just been so focused mindset on growing. Here’s what I’m clocking in to do. I’m clocking in to work on my approach. Every time I step on the court, I can use this. I feel like I’m just working so hard. That’s another thing that’s changed, I go back and look at my old partners and I’m like ‘Oh, I’m so sorry.’ That was the summary of my career: Mr. Highlight. But I didn’t win. Now it’s just win. Just score. It’s not pretty but it’s going to win us this game. Just score the points. Find you. Be who you are.”

A work in progress, but one that is paying dividends early. He finished third in Miami with Dalhausser, losing only the semifinal to Budinger and Evans. He isn’t yet sure who he’ll play with in New Orleans in mid-April, or any events after that. He’s just going to the beach, clocking in, knowing he’ll be a better player, a better partner, with whomever he plays.

“At times I feel like I have to be more patient with myself, that I’m still learning the touch of the game,” Field said. “Even last year just the touch of the game, the creativity. Taylor [Crabb’s] creativity when he comes to hit a ball and I’m still thinking about left-right-left. You just gotta play volleyball. Now I just want to be the guy to uplift my partner, get him to play amazing, and I have more confidence in my game to let things go.”

Troy Field
Troy Field hits a jump serve at AVP Miami/Bryan Malloch AVP Photo


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