It has been a great year for the Arizona beach volleyball team. They are one of the top teams in the country, they dominate every invitational they play in and the team is full of experienced veterans.
One of those seasoned vets is fifth-year senior Carly Lowry, who’s had a long journey getting to the UA despite being very familiar with the Tucson area. Lowry was born in Sacramento, CA, but her family moved to Tucson when she was young and she was raised in Arizona most of her adult life.
“The majority of my family lives in California and we ended up moving back up north to Auburn, (California) about three years ago,” Lowry said. “My dad moved me and my two brothers to Tucson for a job opportunity, but now we are back in California. I have an identity crisis when people ask me where I am from because I never know what to say.”
Even though Lowry missed her home state of California, she does not regret the fact that she grew up in Tucson. It was also when her love for the University of Arizona began.
“It was a great place to grow up,” Lowry said. “Many of my childhood experiences were surrounded by being a UA fan. It was [fun] going to the basketball games every season, support UA and wear UA. If I saw a UA athlete, I was starstruck by them, because I thought that UA was the greatest thing ever. Growing up in Tucson at a young age is very different from being a student in Tucson … and for as big of a population as Tucson is, it is a small community which is very nice.”
Lowry grew to love the community of Tucson and embrace the city, but one thing she did not immediately embrace was beach volleyball. Lowry did play indoor volleyball, but she did not start playing beach volleyball until she attended a high school camp at the UA.
“The first time I set foot in the sand was Bear Down Beach at a Steve Walker volleyball camp,” Lowry said. “When I was in high school, one of my friends asked me if I wanted to play for fun and I had no idea what I was doing. I went to a Steve Walker volleyball camp to learn some of the sport before I started to play.”
While she was in high school, Lowry had difficulty finding schools that wanted her for indoor volleyball because, at the time, she did not want to play beach volleyball.
“It was a tough recruiting process,” Lowry said. “Schools were telling me that their indoor [volleyball] roster was full, but they had spots on their beach [volleyball] roster and asked me if I was interested in playing beach volleyball. I said no because I was trying to play indoor volleyball because that is my sport.”
After graduating high school, Lowry had found a school that she was excited to play for and was already in love with the city. Surprisingly enough, it was not Arizona.
“If I am being completely honest, I had already grown up in Arizona and was ready to leave,” Lowry said. “I wanted to go to California. I did not reach out to any of the Arizona schools only because I was interested in going somewhere different. I always said that if I did not live in Tucson, the first school I would have been in contact with was UA because I love the atmosphere.”
Lowry ended up coming home to California and committed to the University of San Francisco, where she played both indoor and beach volleyball. From the first day she set foot in the city, Lowry was happy.
“San Francisco is such a fun place to be as a young student,” Lowry said. “I enjoyed the energy of San Francisco because there is so much going on all the time. One memory I will never forget is the first time my partner Anna Dalla Vecchia and I beat Utah on court one. It was a big deal at the time because they were Pac-12 and we were WCC. It was the greatest feeling ever because we played our hearts out.”
Lowry was at USF for three years, playing both beach and indoor volleyball. During that time, she was one of the most successful beach volleyball pairs for her then head coach Frank Lavrisha. Before her senior year, she decided to transfer to a familiar school that at first, she was not interested in going to originally.
“I felt that I was not using my full potential athletically,” Lowry said. “I wanted to challenge myself. I had a great experience in San Francisco and I loved being in the city … but I took a risk and put myself in the transfer portal to see if I could find a new opportunity.”
Arizona has lived up to expectations as Lowry and the Sand Cats are one of the best teams in the country. Lowry also attributes a lot of that success to her partner, fifth-year senior Natalie Anselmo. Lowry understands how hard it is to find a good partner and she is glad that she and Anselmo work so well together.
“We both work hard for each other,” Lowry said. “I see [Anselmo] running around and it makes me want to work harder and do better for her. We are both very intense and competitive players … we respect and trust each other. I think creating that bond is very important in beach volleyball because it is only you two out there.”
Since this is her last year at Arizona, Lowry has had a lot to reflect on. Most athletes’ best memories come from their experiences in games. Lowry’s best memories at the UA have come from the times she has spent with her teammates.
“Bonding with my teammates outside of the court have been some of my best memories,” Lowry said. “It is not even the on-court experiences that I have had. [Outside the court with my teammates] is definitely when I laugh the hardest.”
Most athletes are unsure of whether they want to make a career out of their sport after graduation. Lowry has already made that decision.
“I do not have a plan to make a career out of my sports,” Lowry said. “I love that [beach volleyball] has given me opportunities in college. My plan is to further my education. I am not exactly sure what I want to do, but a lot of the advice that I have gotten from people is to take a year off. I do not know if I want to go to law school or get my masters. I want to take a year off because being a student-athlete is a lot of [activity.] I want to travel because it has always been my dream, so hopefully, everything opens up soon so I can do that.”
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