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Court of Honor Award

Established in 1988 to honor an organization or team for its significant contributions and commitment to the sport of volleyball. Nominations for the Court of Honor Award must be supported by at least three sources and the prospective honoree must have been active for at least four years.

Court of Honor Award Winners

2015 - Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce

2013 - 14 Founding Federations of the FIVB

2012 - 1991-2000 Cuban Women's National Team

2006 - The Japan Volleyball Association (JVA)

2002 - 1990-1998 Italian Men's National Team

1999 - 1988 U.S. Men's Olympic Team

1997 - United States Armed Forces

1996 - Springfield College

1995 - Special Olympics International

1994 - American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA)

1993 - Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB)

1989 - Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA)

1988 - 1984 U.S. Men's Olympic Team

1988 - 1980 U.S. Women's Olympic Team


14 Founding Fathers of the FIVB

A decisive moment in the history of volleyball’s first 100 years was certainly that of the founding of the FIVB (Federation Internationale de Volleyball) when in April 1947 representatives of 14 countries (Belgium, Brazil, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, France, Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Uruguay, USA and Yugoslavia) met in Paris under the leadership of France’s Paul Libaud to create the FIVB.  Libaud, a 2009 Volleyball Hall of Fame inductee, was elected as the first president of the newly minted FIVB.

The FIVB organized its first World Championship for men in 1949 and followed with the first World Championship for women in 1952. The actions set in motion by the FIVB founding Federations also enabled the sport of volleyball to reach the grandest stage. In 1959, the IOC included volleyball for both men and women onto the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games schedule. The addition of women’s volleyball was a historical addition as it was the first team sport for women to be played at the Olympic Games. Beach volleyball would later be added to the Olympic Games schedule in 1996 with the inaugural event held in Atlanta.

By 1955 the 14 Founding National Federations had grown to 45. 1964 saw the explosion to 89 affiliates. In 1968, the national federations affiliated with the FIVB totaled 101, distributed over the five continents: 25 in Europe, 25 in Asia, 25 in Africa, 11 in South America, and 15 in NORCECA. The number continued to grow to 160 in 1986, and in 2013, the FIVB counts 220 affiliated federations; making it the largest international sport federation affiliated to and recognized by the International Olympic Committee!

The Volleyball Hall of Fame is proud to welcome the 14 Founding National Federations of FIVB into the Court of Honor in recognition of their pioneering contributions to establishing the international governing body for the sport of volleyball.


1991-2000 Cuban Women's National Team

Led by 2006 Volleyball Hall of Fame coach Eugenio George, the Cuban Women’s National Volleyball Team were one of the most dominating volleyball teams of all time from 1991-2000. In that span Cuba won three consecutive Olympic gold medals in 1992, 1996, 2000 as well as two FIVB World Championship crowns in 1994 and 1998. There were three straight FIVB World Cup titles in 1991, 1995, and 1999, two FIVB World Grand Prix Championships in 1993 and 2000, and two straight FIVB World Grand Champions Cup gold medals in 1991 and 1995 as well as two Pan-American Championships in 1991 and 1995.

All of these accolades add up to a grand total of fourteen championships over a nine year span between six tournaments. Supremacy like this might never be replicated in not only volleyball, but in all of team sports as well.

Some of the greatest players of all time played for the Cuban National Team during this time including Hall of Famers Magaly Carvajal, Mireya Luis, and Regla Torres. The dynasties this team created are unparalleled to any other team in the world.

The Volleyball Hall of Fame is proud to welcome the 1991-2000 Cuban Women’s National Team into the Court of Honor in recognition of achieving an unprecedented level of international success.


The Japan Volleyball Association (JVA)

The sport of volleyball would not be the same without the influence of the Japan Volleyball Association (JVA).  For two decades (1956-1976), the JVA produced some of the brightest moments in volleyball history.

The JVA was founded in 1927 in Osaka, Japan and moved to Tokyo in 1935.  In 1951, the JVA affiliated with the FIVB.  Later Japan became the first non-European country to medal in international competition with bronze medal finishes for both men's and women's teams.  They went on to be the first non-European teams to win silver and gold medals as well.  At the time of this award, the Japanese women's program was second only to the Soviet Union/Russia in overall World Championship medals.

Japan's men's and women's teams also achieved success at the Olympics.  The women won the gold at the inaugural women's volleyball competition at the 1964 Olympics in Japan without losing a set while the men won the bronze.  In 1968, in Mexico, both teams won silver medals and four years later in Munich, the men won gold and the women took the silver for a second time.  In 1976 the women once again won the gold medal.

Japan and the JVA have made many other contributions to the sport as well and the organization is one of the most respected in the sport today.  In 2006, JVA had more than 40,000 active members playing volleyball on high school, collegiate, national and international teams.  It has helped shape the success of volleyball both nationally and internationally since 1927 and has helped spread the sport by offering assistance to developing countries in the form of coaches, equipment, materials and other support.

Japan's involvement in volleyball is further evidenced by the remarkable commitment to hosting international events including World Championships, World Grand Champion Cup, World Cups and many other significant volleyball competitions along with several FIVB World Congresses.


1990-1998 Italian Men's National Team

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.


1988 U.S. Men's Olympic Team

In 1978, the United States Volleyball Association established the first year-round training centers for developing National Teams. Out of this effort came two powerful United States Men’s Olympic teams, which captured the Olympic Gold Medal in 1984 and 1988. Capitalizing on the achievements of the 1984 team, the 1988 team was able to capture global preeminence in the sport, thus demonstrating some of the central values in world class volleyball: loyalty, partnership, and perseverance.

After winning the Gold in 1984 (the year the Soviet Union boycotted the Olympic Games) the team experienced significant turnover among the players and coaches. Nevertheless, owing to its depth of talent, the National Team that would became the 1988 Men’s Olympic team went on to win the 1985 USA Cup, the 1985 NORCECA Championship, and the 1985 Wold Cup. In 1986, they won the World Championships, and in 1987 the Savvin Cup in the Soviet Union. This string of successes gave the 1988 Olympic Team tremendous momentum and a psychological edge in its pursuit of the 1988 Gold Medal at the Seoul Olympic Games.

These two Olympic teams, although linked by the continuity of Steve Timmons, Karch Kiraly, Craig Buck and Dave Saunders, were separate and distinct groups. Building upon the success of the 1984 team, however, the 1988 team sealed the American dominance of volleyball in the 1980’s by winning a second, consecutive, Gold Medal for the United States. The 1988 Team won against a full Olympic field, beating the powerful Soviet team that had been dominant for two decades. They never lost in seven matches, beating Japan, Holland, Argentina, France, Tunisia, Brazil, and the Soviets.

Several team members have selected as Inductees to the Volleyball Hall of Fame including Craig Buck (1998), Bob Ctrvlik (2007), Karch Kiraly (2001), Jeff Stork (2012), Steve Timmons (1998).


United States Armed Forces

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 (Inducted 1990) 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.


Springfield College

No other college or university has had a longer history and greater impact on volleyball than Springfield College.

William G. Morgan, an 1894 graduate of Springfield College (then the International YMCA Training School) invented volleyball in 1895 at the Holyoke YMCA. At the first public demonstration of Morgan’s game of “mintonette” in 1896 at the College, Springfield professor Alfred Thompson “A.T.” Halsted suggested the name change to “volley ball” (then two words) and it was readily adopted.

In the years that followed, educators from Springfield College taught and introduced the game throughout the world in various schools and YMCA’s. Today many Springfield College alumni continue to teach, coach, and officiate volleyball across the country.

Springfield College has supported a men’s team since the mid 1940’s and in 1951 Springfield won the National Collegiate Championship. With Tom Hay as coach, Springfield started the first New England collegiate volleyball tournament, New England and collegiate volleyball leagues, and championships in the late 60’s and 70’s. Hay’s teams also participated in the NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championship in 1971, 1974, and 1976.

Each year the College and the Hall of Fame co-host the Morgan Classic, a tournament featuring top collegiate men’s teams. In 1995, Springfield College and the Hall of Fame hosted the NCAA Men’s Championship at the Springfield Civic Center.

With such a deeply rooted history, it’s not surprising that Springfield’s men’s and women’s teams have enjoyed considerable success.


Special Olympics International

In recognition of its work with children and adults that are intellectually disabled, Special Olympics International is to be enshrined in the Court of Honor at the Volleyball Hall of Fame. 

Special Olympics, headquartered in Washington D. C. is an international program of year-round sports training and athletic competition for individuals with intellectual disabilities. 

All 50 states have chapter offices and more than 143 countries have accredited programs. The sport of volleyball has grown in Special Olympic competition in the last 12 years from 30% of chapters in the United States to 80% competing at the Chapter State Games. Over 20,000 volunteers have been trained as volleyball coaches, over 60,000 athletes now participate in organized competition and over 60 national programs have competition on a regular basis.

On the international level, each World Games has volleyball team competition and individual skills contests in which athletes receive medals and awards. Participation in these games has increased significantly from 18 teams in 1983 to 56 teams in 1995 Women did not compete in 1983, however 23 women's teams competed in 1995.

"It is gratifying to the volleyball community and the Hall of Fame that volleyball has become such a popular featured sport in the Special Olympics," according to Alexander Stetynski, past president of the Hall of Fame, "The Hall is pleased to be honoring the Special Olympics International during volleyball’s centennial year for its work in promoting the sport worldwide and bringing its excitement to Special Olympians."


The American Volleyball Coaches Association

In 1981, the American Volleyball Association was incorporated as a private non-profit educational corporation with the mission to advance the development of the sport of volleyball by providing coaches with educational programs, a forum for opinion exchange and recognition opportunities.

The AVCA educates its members through its publications and electronic resources which cater to all levels of the volleyball community. Each year, held in conjunction with the NCAA Women’s Championships, the AVCA hosts its annual convention, a five-day event comprised of business meetings, divisional meetings, award banquets, educational sessions, and more. 

The AVCA continues its commitment to the development, growth and advancement and publicity of volleyball, and as such, it is rightfully recognized in the Volleyball Hall of Fame’s “Court of Honor”.


Federation Internationale de Volleyball

The Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) has been a major factor in the tremendous international popularity of the sport of volleyball.

In 1946, at an international match between Czechoslovakia and France, the Constitutive Congress agreed to meet the following year in Paris, at which time an international federation of volleyball would be born. The French Volleyball Federation organized the meetings and helped with the creation of the National Federations in Belgium, The Netherlands. Luxembourg, and Switzerland.

The 14 nations attending the Congress created the Statutes and International Regulations of the FIVB and made the American and European rules concordant. The FIVB continued to work on a worldwide set of rules and, in 1955, during the Florence Congress, the Japanese Federation decided to introduce the international rules in its country and in Asia.

Under the direction of the FIVB, the first European Championships took place in Rome in 1948, followed by the first World Championships, held in Praha in 1949.

With its own world championships in place, the FIVB directed its attention to the Olympic Games. Thanks to the Bulgarian Volleyball Federation, a tournament was held in Sofia in 1957 during the International Olympic Committee meetings. As a result, volleyball was included as an Olympic Sport at the 1964 Olympics in Toyko.

Since its beginnings in 1947, with 14 member countries, the FIVB has grown into an international organization of more than 200 nations.


United States Volleyball Association

The United States Volleyball Association (USVBA) has been a major factor in the tremendous international popularity of the sport of volleyball. From the early days at the YMCA to Olympic medals and beyond, the USVBA's influence can be readily seen.

In the beginning, the USVBA helped develop a uniform set of rules and regulations for the game, and instituted improvements.

The USVBA has hosted National Championships annually, at the same time working with its member organizations, such as the NCAA, YMCA, and Armed Forces, on their championships and tournaments.

In 1947, the USVBA was one of fourteen charter members forming the Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB).  The FIVB governs the sport worldwide and now has a membership of 220 National Federations.

The USVBA spearheaded the efforts to include volleyball as an Olympic sport, with success coming in 1964 at the games in Tokyo.

The USVBA (now USA Volleyball) continues to support the sport of volleyball through an intense international competition schedule, through extensive educational and grassroots instruction, and through active support of volleyball activities from the Boy Scouts of America to the United States National Team.


Young Men's Christian Association

Volleyball was invented in 1895 at the Young Men's Christian Association in Holyoke, Massachusetts by William Morgan, Physical Director, as an alternative to basketball, which he found too strenuous for businessmen in his evening gymnastic classes.

That same year, Morgan unveiled the game at a physical directors' conference at Springfield College, then the international YMCA training college. Two "mintonette" teams from Holyoke, one led by Major J. J. Curran, arrived by trolley car to demonstrate the new sport and the directors responded enthusiastically. Upon the suggestion of Springfield faculty member Dr. A. T. Halstead the name of the game was changed to volleyball.

As it had with basketball, the YMCA nurtured volleyball through its early years; a committee of physical directors annually revised the rules, which were printed, for the first time in 1897, in the First Edition of the Handbook of the Athletic League of the YMCA's of North America. In 1916, the rules were issued jointly by the YMCA and the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the Spalding Blue Cover Series.

During the same period YMCA directors stationed in foreign countries were making the game popular around the world. There were many notable YMCA "volleyball missionaries." Franklin Brown carried the sport to Japan, Henry J. Sims and Jess Hopkins to South America, Elwood Brown to the Philippines, Max Exner and Howard Crocker to China, Dr. John Gray to Ceylon and India, and Christopher Scaife to Siberia.

The first National Volleyball Tournament was held at the Brooklyn Central YMCA of New York in 1922 and six years later the YMCA was among the twelve organizations that convened to form the United States Volleyball Association. The YMCA continues to promote the game of volleyball worldwide and offers programs to men, women, and children of all ages, races and religions.


1984 U.S. Men's Olympic Team

In 1984, the U.S. Olympic team earned the world's number one ranking and became the standard by which great volleyball teams are measured. 

The team's international dominance continued past the winning of the World Cup (1985) and World Championship (1986), whereby capturing volleyball's "triple crown". But the '84 team did more than win this country's first Gold Medal, it captured the hearts of the American people and generated a new passion for the sport within the United States and around the world. 

Because of the team's success, more Americans began watching volleyball, playing volleyball, and enjoying volleyball. Volleyball players became heroes, and the sport, born in the USA, became "America's sport".


1980 U.S. Women's Olympic Team

The United States first "great" team, and a team that brought volleyball as a serious Olympic Sport to the attention of all Americans, the 1980 U.S. Women's Olympic team told the world that volleyball had resurrected in the land of its birth. 

It was a team that included all of the great stars of that era, many of whom would go on to fame in the early eighties and the first Olympic medal for the United States.  Names included Rita Crockett (Inducted 2011), Patty Dowdell (Inducted 1994), Debbie Green (Inducted 1995), Flo Hyman (Inducted 1988), and head coach Arie Selinger (Inducted 1995)

The 1980 team was the initial monument to the coaching genius of Arie Selinger and accomplished many "firsts" for him and the United States, both domestically and internationally, and except for the Carter Boycott, quite possibly the 1980 Olympic Gold Medal.