From George Elliot Secondary to UBC to Montpellier, France, Fynn McCarthy’s volleyball prowess has taken him a very long way, in just a short amount of time.
The Lake Country resident was an avid baseball and hockey player, with little interest in volleyball up until Grade 10. His friends convinced him to join the George Elliot team and McCarthy grew interested in the sport from there. Not only did McCarthy’s interest develop for his new sport, so did the interest of multiple universities, eager to have McCarthy join their teams.
“I started to improve pretty quickly,” McCarthy said, talking about his transition into the sport.
McCarthy joined the UBC men’s team at 17. In a year, McCarthy led UBC to a national championship, was the gold medal game MVP and also broke the UBC record for touch height (how high someone can reach when they jump straight up from a standing position.) McCarthy has a 12-foot touch height. One could argue the now 19-year-old was built to be a volleyball player.
But instead of accepting the offered full ride to UBC, McCarthy took the path to become a professional volleyball player for Montpellier Volley, a professional volleyball club in the south of France.
“The motivation leaving to play pro was that I wanted to play at the next level and be challenged. I’m playing against some of the best players in the world, and when you’re playing at this high of a level day in and day out, it’s not hard to improve,” said McCarthy. “I’m travelling around France and experiencing the culture, and I’ve been learning a ton since being out here.”
He said he has embraced the big differences of playing in France as opposed to playing in university.
“It’s the efficiency with every skill at the pro level, there is no room for errors,” McCarthy said.
“In university, errors can be OK, people are still getting used to the sport and team, and the players’ number one focus is school, not volleyball,” said McCarthy. “In pro, if you make simple or mental mistakes, it doesn’t look good and you have to be at the top of your game every day. The room for error is small if you want to succeed and have a career.”
McCarthy’s team, Montpellier Volley, has been having a successful season thus far. Halfway through the season, Montpellier is tied for second in the league. The team has some of the best players in the world, and McCarthy is beyond comfortable sacrificing playing time to learn from the best.
“I’m playing behind some great teammates, and I came in with the understanding that I didn’t expect much playing time,” he said. “Instead of being frustrated, I’ve learned to learn as much as possible from the starters, work hard at practice, and get a feel with how the pro leagues work.”
McCarthy is one of the youngest players on his team, and also one of the youngest Canadians to ever sign a pro volleyball contract. He has more than enough time to learn and improve in the professional league, and as McCarthy puts it, it’s easy to improve when you’re thrown into the fire.
It’s expected for the transition overseas may be hard for McCarthy, being away from his home and family. His father, Cal McCarthy, said he’s always worked well on his own.
“The transition is challenging, but it was his goal to play pro, and he’s been well prepared and (we’re) happy he’s playing in an amazing (place),” said Cal McCarthy.
Fynn McCarthy said he misses home, but living in the beautiful south of France has made the transition rather painless.
“It’s pretty easy to move to a place like (Montpellier), and the guys on the team have helped me a lot,” McCarthy said. “It can be a lonely season, not seeing my family for this long, and it does go to the back of my mind.”
He said focusing on his play and on the club’s games has helped him at least feel at home. The McCarthy family is planning a reunion with the volleyball star later on in the season, just as the playoffs heat up for McCarthy’s club.
At the end of the season, McCarthy will reunite with the Canada national team program as they prepare for the PanAm games, and the Olympic qualifiers. McCarthy’s working his way towards Canada’s A team and could push for a spot amongst Canada’s best come the 2020 Olympics in Japan. Though he’s often away from his home in the Okanagan, he said his love for the game helps distract him.
“If I was doing something I didn’t really enjoy, it would be really hard to be away from my family for this long,” McCarthy said.
For now, the 19-year-old said he does 19-year-old type things during his downtime. Playing video games like Fortnite, and relaxing and taking advantage of everything the south of France has to offer.
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