Italian Menís National Team
2002 Court of Honor Recipient
Italy has a long tradition of high-powered volleyball play within its borders, culminating in high profile National Championships. Club championships are popular events and world-class players have been imported for years to buttress already excellent teams. However, this high level of play has not historically produced similar results in the Italian National Team's performance despite a strong pool of talented players and coaches.
The early 1980's saw new playing and coaching techniques brought into the country with foreign players and coaches who signed on with power clubs to compete for the Italian Championship. The increasing sophistication of the club teams finally coalesced in an Italian National Team that became the premier world team throughout the 1990's. The National Team acquisition of the Argentinean coach Julio Velasco in 1989 launched Italy on their winning trajectory.
Velasco revolutionized the Italian Volleyball Association. He modernized the Italian National Team leadership, hiring new staff to support the team. He documented matches and dissected play-by-play action to improve team results. He de-emphasized the specialization trend of the 1980's, as exemplified in the American National Team. He emphasized the concept of the "square", team unity where the team was better than the sum of its players. Velasco, capitalizing on strong, developed talent, immediately brought the Italian National Team to the forefront of the international stage with a first-time appearance and a Gold Medal at the European Championships in 1989.
Starting with international wins at the 1990 World Championship and the 1990 Goodwill Games, the Italian National Team swept the world volleyball events for the next ten years. They won a Gold Medal in the World Championships in 1990, 1994 and 1998. They simultaneously won Gold Medals in the World League in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995 and 1997, with a Silver Medal at the 1996 World Championship. They won a Gold Medal at the 1993 Grand Champions Cup and a Gold Medal in the 1991 Mediterranean Games. In Italy's best finish at an Olympic event, the National Team won a Silver
Medal at the 1996 Olympic Games. The Volleyball Hall of Fame is proud to welcome the 1990 - 1998 Italian National Men's Team into the Court of Honor of its accomplishments in volleyball. The Court of Honor was established in 1988 to honor a team or organization for its significant contributions and commitment to the sport of volleyball.