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Volleyball in America is more technical than India, says Kolkata Thunderbolts' Cody Caldwell

From California to Kolkata, through Kochi, Cody Caldwell has seen it all in Volleyball.

Volleyball in America is more technical than India, says Kolkata Thunderbolts Cody Caldwell

Cody Caldwell and Ashwal Rai of Kolkata Thunderbolts. (Source: Prime Volleyball League/Twitter)


Rajdeep Saha

Updated: 27 Feb 2023 7:31 AM GMT

Kolkata Thunderbolts are currently placed second in the Prime Volleyball League 2023 points table after collecting four wins and a loss, and are well on their way to defend their title.

One man who's been instrumental in the team's scheme of things is the experienced Cody Caldwell.

While the league isn't new to him, the former Kochi Blue Spikers man has certainly acclimatised well to the new team.

"It's a whole new team, new staff. Raison (Benet) and Deepesh (Sinha) are the only familiarities I have this year, other than the league itself. Last year we barely got five days, or a week, before the league started. This time we at least got three weeks to work together and helped create a connection," Cody told The Bridge on joining a new team.

The Thunderbolts have just two more games to go to book their semi-final berth, after which the league will come to a close after two months of action. To Caldwell, the PVL format is "super short" as the American is used to playing eight-month long seasons in Greece and France.

"For sure (shorter leagues being a disadvantage). If you are going to get eight months to prepare before the season starts then you will have time to get much better. If you have only two months, you can only train so much. There's a discipline when it comes to physicality, technique, and skill. The longer you have, the better you become," the player said.

The defending champions have been on a good run and are close to the semi-finals. The attacker attributes it to the support everyone has given them, but feels the Kolkata side has more tricks under their sleeves.

"Just the energy and the support everyone gave each other (on how they are performing well). I wasn't necessarily happy with the way I played but we all supported each other and did everything we could to the best of our abilities to get the victory, but we have much more to show as a team," the 29-year-old said.

Indian v/s American Volleyball

This is Cody's second season in India, but he's plied his trade for a much longer time back in the United States, his home country. He was quizzed about the difference between the sport back home and here, and the spiker didn't hold back in his honest analysis.

"One of the main differences is probably just the coaching, not even the style of coaching, but just that people are playing from an earlier age and getting coached at a higher level of more, more technical and tactical volleyball skills.

"When I was 12 years old, I'm doing an hour of passing practice before we even get onto anything else here. These guys here, they prioritize attacking and serving but maybe lacking defense and block and serve, receive and things like this," he said.

"So the main difference is being coached from a young age I think at a higher level, which I think just has to do with a lot of resources and opportunity. That's the biggest difference, You know, nothing to do with the skill sets themselves," Cody added.

Spiking in California

The dal makhani lover has been attacking the volleyball over the nets for almost two decades now, the connection starting right from his household.

"My grandpa played volleyball. My mom played volleyball and I have an older brother who played volleyball. So I started messing around with him when I was 10 years old, nothing official just playing in the backyard and everything and then I started playing when I was in seventh grade," Cody recalled.

After hitting the teens, Caldwell won a couple of youth championships with his high school and went to college to continue what he knew best. "Being in California, it's kind of a hub, especially southern California is kind of a hub for beach volleyball and indoor volleyball in America," he informed.

"So I was just lucky to be surrounded with high level players and high level coaches who could teach me the game and and what to do in order to be successful in this sport," Cody added.

The sand or the mat?

After winning consecutive national championships during his college days, the doors of professional volleyball were opened to the ever-burgeoning Cody. It was at this juncture where he got the chance to play in Greece and France, where he would stay for months on end to play indoors. But, his heart was somewhere else.

"It was kind of hard to make a decision. I could keep playing indoor volleyball for these eight month seasons in Europe or keep traveling the world doing that. But you know, eight months is most of the year and I would be away from my family and friends for that time," Cody explained.

"So I made the decision to just start playing beach volleyball where I could, you know, still play volleyball. I love beach volleyball. Honestly, I like it more than indoor and I'm able to be close to my family and friends and still be able to do that at a professional level," he added.

In essence, competitions like the PVL have helped Cody get the best of both worlds; travelling the world to play indoor competitions, and play out on the sand for the rest of year with his close ones nearby.

"There's not much going on for beach volleyball at this time of year. So I come here and play indoor and it's kind of the perfect timing to where I finish this and I go back and I start my beach season and yeah, that's kind of been my journey," Caldwell concluded.

Cody might be blasting some techno music or doing a bout of meditation before a match, but be rest assured that he will leave nothing out on that mat.

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