They will take to the sand Thursday at the AVP Seattle Open as not only the second-seeded men’s team, but the biggest surprise pair of 2019.
Third-place twice and a silver last time out at in New York?
“It’s pretty crazy,” Troy Field admitted. “I’m pretty amazed, pretty stoked, pretty fortunate that we made it to a final. Just the idea that I made an AVP final is pretty surreal.”
He and partner Tim Bomgren ultimately lost in two to Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, but it hardly diminished their amazing path in such a short time. Bomgren is a graduate of Wisconsin Eau Claire, while Field went to Saddleback Community College, so neither is a product of a big-time volleyball program, which makes their successes even more astounding.
“I didn’t think it would happen this season,” Field said. “You know, you have hopes and dreams, but to play in a final in New York against a stacked team, I’m pretty grateful.”
More remarkable is that Field, a 25-year-old 6-foot-4 blocker who lives in Mission Viejo, California, has played in just 18 pro tournaments. But what he lacks in experience he makes up in part with a vertical leap of 39 inches on the beach. He’s touched 12-2 indoors, which translates to an almost unheard of 47-inch vertical.
Last year was Field’s first full AVP season and he made four main draws in seven events, finishing ninth in Austin, Hermosa Beach, and Chicago. This season, he teamed with Bomgren and were third in the season opener in Huntington Beach and then again in Austin.
“All that means is that teams will be more prepared to play us next time, and have more tape to scout, so the task only gets harder,” Bomgren said. “We’re just going to continue to work at it and play the best we can.”
Field said he’s unsure where his big hops come from. His father was a quarterback in high school, his mother a model in Denmark, and he has an older brother Michael and a younger sister Kiana, and neither are athletic.
Field first recalls touching a volleyball in 2012, when after watching the Olympics, he and a few friends decided to pepper at Strands, a beach just south of Salt Creek beach in Dana Point. None of his friends knew how to play or even had a net, but it triggered something in Field.
Next, a church friend, Micah Guy, took Field down to Doheny State beach in 2013, and showed him the old men’s court, with guys from their 40s to their 60s. He told him that if he could fit into that court he would be set.
Field, too shy to ask, patiently waited for an opportunity.
“So every day after work I would go and sit on the bench close to the court, and wait for one of them to ask me to play,” Field said. “I was way too nervous and shy to interject myself into their games.”
Finally he got an invite, and “and they taught me how to pass, how to serve, the three step approach.”
In 2016 he began playing CBVA events with his friend Joel Blocksom. They finished second in a Marine Street AA. In 2017, however, they played poorly in an early season Long Beach CBVA event and they split.
Field had no partner and stopped playing.
But one morning he volunteered to shag when Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb practiced with Chase Frishman and Michael Brunsting, and, well, perception became reality. Volleyball passersby thought that he was training with the stars, so he received a number of texts inviting him to train, including practicing with John Mayer when Jeremy Casebeer was out of town.
Field is a movie buff (his favorites are Top Gun and any of the Harry Potter franchise) and plays guitar. But quickly volleyball came first.
“I was dating a girl, and I thought that we were going to get married, but it was complicated because we talked about getting married before I really pursued volleyball,” he recalled. “I was trying to build a career, I was in the Orange County Sheriff’s academy at the time, but I also had this volleyball dream.
“We had long discussions about volleyball, like ‘What kinds of jobs can you get through volleyball,’ and I had no clue, and it became a continual argument. There were definitely other complications, but volleyball was one of the reasons. I let that relationship go and decided to pursue volleyball.
“She’s now engaged, and I’m pursuing volleyball, so we’ve both found what we’re longing for. We’re both on the paths that God laid out for us right now.”
Field attends Compass Bible Church in Aliso Viejo, a non-denominational Christian church. Field said his checkered family life led him to religion while he was in middle school. His mother struggled with substance-abuse issues, and he later had a falling out with his father after they worked together in commercial real estate.
Field’s original plan was to go into the pastoral ministry after interning at South Shores Church in Dana Point.
“Out of all the things that have happened in my life, not having the most functional family life or home life, from moving across the country and not having the money or food at times, the one thing that has been sane and stable is God,” Field said. “
“I came to it in middle school, and it’s been my rock and refuge.
“For me, it’s the No. 1 thing. It’s who I am, it’s what I set my standards for, and it’s how I go about making decisions. I’m definitely a Christian who believes in the bible and I try to live my life based on that.”
That translates to his volleyball, as well.
“Every decision that I make, and everything that I do is with the backing of religion. When I’m on the court, how I treat my partners, competitors, refs, fans, it all comes from religion,” Field said. “I don’t want to be prideful because the ability to play this sport didn’t come from me, it’s a gift, so I want to be thankful, be respectful, apologize when I’m wrong, and make that apology to my peers, and be a good partner. It billows out of me in any form of life.”
The 6-foot-4 Bomgren, 32, who also volunteers at his local church, grew up Lutheran.
“It’s certainly a big part of both of our lives. We live by a lot of the same principles and guidelines, but we’re both easy-going guys,” Bomgren said. “We both like to have fun out there, a lot of things all mesh together and align us in those areas of our life.”
Field, whose only tattoo reads “Solo deo Gloria,” Latin for “Glory to God alone”, agrees.
“We have very similar beliefs off the court, so when we step on the court, we hold ourselves a certain way,” Field said. “We’re definitely ‘team nice.’ And it’s not something that we’re bragging about, it’s just who we are.
“We make jokes, we high-five people under the net. We compliment our competitors.”
Field is a photographer and works with Justin Sherman of Kyro Digital, a friend from church who shoots weddings, commercials, and special events.
“I love photography because you can capture moments,” Field said. “Each photograph can give off emotion, feeling, and the artistic side of it, I just love when you can look at something, see that it is beautiful, and capture that moment.”
Field is also adventurous. He’s played in the snow, he’s played on the Japanese and New Zealand tours, and he’s played FIVB and NORCECA. The list of countries in which he’s played in during his relatively brief career includes Mexico, Cuba, Austria, Slovenia, and New Zealand.
Along the way, he studied the best. Field, who said has watched every match Karch Kiraly has played available on Youtube, honors him by wearing “the pink hat to pay homage to Karch, not to take anything away from him. I’m not trying to be the next Karch or bring offense to him. Imitation is the best form of flattery. I would hope that he would be proud.”
Bomgren, a veteran of 52 tournaments, knows that they will get better. After all, they have only practiced together six times, three of which were pre-tournament serve-and-pass partial sessions.
“Troy and I are going out there time and time again, and proving to ourselves that we can beat these top teams,” Bomgren said. “Our goal is obviously to win a tournament, or more than one tournament, but it doesn’t get easier from here.”
And maybe in Seattle they’ll get a chance like they did in New York.
“I wish we had played better in the final,” Field said, “Nick and Phil are the best team in the United States for a reason. It was so hard, and their experience prevailed, but it was fun to get out there and get a second-place finish.”