Murdock named to the Jamaican National Team
by Nishaan Sodhi
Nathan Murdock’s volleyball career has taken him from Mississauga to Montego Bay – and everywhere in between. The former Pakmen Volleyball player recently returned from his first stint as a member of the Jamaican Men’s National Volleyball Team. As the youngest member of the squad the experience was composed of a mix nervousness, excitement, and gratitude. But Nathan Murdock enjoyed every moment of it.
It was an opportunity that seemingly appeared out of the blue. Murdock had been dominating the OVA circuit for years, and outplayed his competition in Canada and the United States on multiple occasions. The scholarships were expected, but an invitation to join a national team? That was something he could only dream of.
It was late last year when Murdock was approached by Clayton Carimbocas, the head coach of Onyx, a club based out of Toronto. Prior to this, Murdock was unsure of what lied ahead in terms of his future as a volleyball player. After all, picking a college to play for was hard enough. But when the opportunity came to represent his country of origin, Murdock jumped at the opportunity.
Though skeptical at first, Murdock’s interest peaked when Steve Brown flew down to Toronto to speak with him. Brown broke down what the experience would include and what training would be like. For Murdock, not only would this be his first time playing professionally but it would also be his first time living on his own. He would be provided food, housing, and training equipment. His job was to show up and show the veterans why he was recruited.
“I was excited for the opportunity to go down and play for Jamaica,” says Murdock. “My father were born there and I’d only been once before. It was nerve wracking playing at such a high level at a young age and living on my own, but once I got used to it everything was alright.”
Volleyball was in Nathan’s genes. His older brother Sammy was a Pakmen standout two years older than him. From the first time he touched a volleyball, coaches knew Murdock would be a special player. His height was always as an advantage, but his athleticism separated him from the rest of the pack. Murdock’s Pakmen career began as a 13 year old kid at David Leeder Middle School, and continued up until 18u. In those years he lead his team to provincial and national championships, and represented Ontario on multiple occasions.
When he arrived in Jamaica the first thing he noticed was the difference in living standards.
“There were people hustling on the streets,” he says. “People selling watches, clothes, food. Everything. You just don’t see that in Ontario.”
Once he settled into a routine, it was easy to focus on the task ahead – becoming the best possible volleyball player he could be.
Murdock was living the athletic dream. Wake up, eat, and head over to a teammates house. Then practice all day. There was weight training, plyometrics, and of course skills and drills. The Jamaican team was training to compete in the Caribbean Volleyball Championships (CVC), a tournament in Trinidad and Tobago which featured teams from across the Caribbean.
As the tournament neared Murdock became more comfortable with the idea of playing at a high level on an international stage. As his confidence grew, the improvement in his play was almost tangible.
Murdock had a strong showing against Guyana in the first match. Although he racked up 6 errors, he more than made up for it with 8 kills and 2 blocks. The biggest challenge for him was the inconsistency in officiating. Having played in Canada his whole life, he never experienced a game being influenced by politics. Unfortunately, things were a little different at the CVC.
“The officiating was real tough,” says Murdock. “They hardly let anything slide.”
Team Jamaica would end up losing in 4 sets to a seasoned Trinidad and Tobago squad. The match was close but ultimately, experience prevailed.
For Nathan, this marked the end of his first trip to Jamaica as a national player. With the president of Jamaican volleyball moving on and the head coach stepping down, the team would be in a limbo for a few months as things got sorted out. Nathan would travel back to Canada and train in Mississauga while the situation was sorted out in Jamaica. With the other Caribbean championship taking place in November, he was informed that he would be back in Jamaica in a few months.
These days Nathan spends his time training for the challenges ahead, and just being a typical teenager in Mississauga. The experience was great, but he’s excited for the future ahead!