Armed Forces of The United States
1997 Court of Honor Recipient
The US Armed Forces have long been major players in the development of the sport of volleyball in the United States and around the globe. During World War I, the American soldier found the game as a source of recreation and exercise, and as an escape from the strain of fighting. An extensive physical fitness and recreation program was instituted during the war by the YMCA in the army camps and naval stations. In 1918, when the Army and Navy Athletic Handbook was prepared, it included an extensive section on volleyball.
The popularity of the sport among servicemen was steadily growing and, in 1919, the Inter-Allied Games were held at Pershing Stadium, just outside of Paris, for the U.S. Troops and Allied Troops. A great boost to volleyball participation came during and after World War II. Because volleyball could be played by men of all ages, in a limited area, both in-or outdoors, the popularity of this sport among the U.S. Armed Forces was immense. Two divisions of teams were organized, with Lt. Col. Edward B. DeGroot directing activity in the European Command, while Major F.A. Lambert oversaw the Far East Command. As a result, the appeal of volleyball spread to these continents as well, and a survey of the Armed Forces at this time ranked volleyball second in popularity only to softball.
Because of this, within two years after the close of the war, the number of volleyball players doubled, with five to ten million participants estimated in the United States alone. The US military participation also grew and, in 1952, an Armed Forces program was added to the United States Volleyball Association annual championships in Columbus, Ohio, with Los Alamitos Naval Air Station winning the First Crown. In 1953, the first worldwide Air Force Tournament was held at Hamilton Air Base in Hamilton, California.
Throughout the 50’s, the Armed Forces continued to promote the sport throughout the United States and the world. The Army and Air Force called on outstanding coaches to conduct volleyball clinics abroad and by 1960, Army, Navy and Air Force teams were represented in the USVBA.
So competitive were these military teams that, in 1959 the US Armed Forces All-Star team, coached by Lt. Col. DeGroot won the AAU title, and came in 3rd in the USVBA’s Open Division.
The U.S. Armed Forces have long continued their support of the sport of volleyball, and have joined with military forces of other countries in worldwide tournaments. As part of volleyball’s Centennial Celebration, the U.S. Armed Forces again demonstrated its commitment to volleyball as it joined with the Volleyball Hall of Fame as the official host of the USVBA Open Championships held at Westover Air Base in Chicopee, MA.
The court of Honor was established in 1988 to honor an organization or team for its significant contributions and commitment to the sport of Volleyball.