2012 AVCA Hall of Fame Class Announced
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The AVCA annually recognizes those individuals who have reached the pinnacle of their profession and the sport, with the AVCA Hall of Fame. The first AVCA Hall of Fame class, a total of 23 individuals who had earned either the AVCA Founders Award or AVCA Excellence in Education Award, was honored at the 2003 AVCA Annual Convention.
The tenth annual AVCA Hall of Fame class features Arnie Ball, Bill Neville, Carol Russo and Rudy Suwara. They will be inducted in ceremonies December 13, 2012 at the Jostens Coaches Honors Luncheon, held in conjunction with the 2012 AVCA Annual Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.
Few have had an impact on the sport, and more specifically the men's game, like IPFW Men's Head Coach Arnie Ball. Over the course of his 32 years coaching the Mastodons, Ball has put together a very impressive resume that includes over 500 career wins, six trips to the NCAA Final Four, six regular season MIVA Championships and rosters littered with All-Conference, All-American and U.S. Olympic team selections. His most successful campaign came in 2007 when IPFW finished as national runner-up, falling to UC Irvine in the championship match. That year he was later named both the AVCA Division I-II National Coach of the Year and the Asics/Volleyball Magazine Coach of the Year.
In total he has mentored 15 AVCA All-Americans, six MIVA Players of the Year and two Olympic athletes. He led his squad to fourth place finishes in 1992 and 1994 and third place finishes in 1991, 1996 and 2006.
However, the father of three has roamed other sidelines in his illustrious coaching career. After graduating from Ball State University where he was a top volleyball player, Ball took a job coaching Fort Wayne's Harding High School and won three Indiana Volleyball Coaches Association Championships. He joined IPFW in 1981 to coach both the men's and women's programs, leading the women to four Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) Championships. Ball ended his eight-year women coaching tenure with a record of 231-102.
While at IPFW he held numerous roles on the USA Volleyball coaching staff, including the prestigious honor of serving as a scout for the 2000 U.S. National Team. His final international role came in 2003 as the head coach of the U.S. Team in the World University Games, where his team defeated France in five sets to win a bronze medal.
Ball has always been a man of incredible integrity and passion for not only the sport of volleyball, but for the Fort Wayne community. In 2005, he was presented with the Hilliard Gates Achievement Award for his lifetime accomplishments and contributions to the place he calls home.
"He has been what a model of success should be," said Penn State Men's Head Coach Mark Pavlik. "He has affected his players in such a positive manner that players from all of his coaching generations return to honor him and his program when appropriate. Most importantly he has done this while never abdicating his role as a father and husband. He has taken his love of family and passed it along to everyone that has had the honor of being guided by him. He is everything a coach should be."
Over the past four decades, there is little Bill Neville hasn't done in the volleyball arena. Starting his career in 1967 as the head coach of the All-Army Volleyball Team, Neville established himself as one of the top coaches in the domestic and international game.
In the 1968 Olympic Games held in Mexico City, he served as the U.S. Men's Assistant Coach before becoming the temporary head coach of the Women's National Team in the 1972 Olympics. After the short stint he went north of the border that year to be the Canadian National Team's Head Coach, making him not only the first full-time coach the Canadian program has seen, but the youngest to serve as an Olympics Head Coach of any sport at the time.
He then stepped away from the international scene after his second Olympics to become the head coach at Montana State University. However, he couldn't resist the lure of the National Team once again joining the men as the assistant coach. When he first took over the program it was ranked 19th in the world, but by the end of the 1984 Olympics the squad finished with their first-ever gold being revered as one of the best teams of all time.
Neville went on to share the next six years coaching Montana State and the U.S. Men's National Team while also serving as a USA Volleyball Technical Director for two years. As technical director he developed the organization's Coaching Accreditation Program, or CAP, which is still in use today.
In 1991, he was hired to be the new head coach at the University of Washington. While at the helm of the Huskies, Neville led Washington to three NCAA Tournament appearances including a regional semifinal spot in 1997. He earned the Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 1996 as the Huskies went 23-8 after a 13-13 campaign the previous season.
He currently serves as the National Commissioner of Coaches Education, holding that position since 2003. He has parlayed his incredible knowledge of training into three books and has produced numerous instructional articles and videos. Through his company Nevillizms Inc., he continues to study and develop new and effective approaches to training and competing based on the rule modifications and trends in the game.
"Maybe more important than any technical thing he's done is the fact that Bill is so generous with his time, with anyone in the sport we care so deeply about - coaches, administrators, officials and especially players," said former player and current Women's National Team Assistant Coach Karch Kiraly. "He transmits a passion for this game as well as anyone I've known. Not long ago I ran into another former player who told me he was inspired to coach after attending a Bill Neville clinic in 1985 and getting to hear stories about the 1984 Olympics team. I've heard that a lot about Bill, and that's the highest praise I can think of."
When talking about some of the great coaches in volleyball, it becomes less about the sport itself and more about the molding of young athletes. This is no different with Carol Russo. Coaching 26 years at Elyria High School in Elyria, Ohio, Russo had an astounding 575-126 record, 19 conference championships, 14 district championships, three regional championships and a Division I State Runner-up in 1996. She was a NFHS Section 2 Coach of the Year and a Hall of Famer at both Elyria High School and the Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Association.
However, those numbers don't do justice to what kind of coach and person she is. Currently the Executive Director of the OHSVCA, Russo has used her leadership skills to secure contracts and continuously grow the Association to one of the best high school coaches associations in the country. Under her guidance, the Board of Trustees now meets in a winter work session, the constitution and bylaws have been updated, job descriptions were written and a pay rubric was put in place.
Their website has also taken great leaps forward thanks to Russo's leadership. Coaches can report match scores, vote on a poll and register for a clinic online. While also serving on the Strategic Planning Commission, her vision for the OHSVCA is very progressive as she will do whatever it takes to advance the sport of volleyball.
Russo's relationship with the AVCA has only grown over the years. She has presented at numerous AVCA Conventions and networks with other coaches and leaders across the country. The annual High School Under Armour All-America Match & Skills Competition would not be nearly as successful without the help from Russo, who assists with the organization of players and practice sessions. The volleyball coaching legend serves on the AVCA Publications Committee in addition to serving as Chair of the High School All-American Committee.
"I can say without equivocation that Mrs. Russo has done more to advance interscholastic volleyball than any person with whom I have had the opportunity to work in my 23 years as an administrator with the Ohio High School Athletic Association," said OHSAA Associate Commissioner Deborah Moore. "Her leadership skills are legendary, and she is one of the most successful volleyball coaches in Ohio High School History. But even more important, she is an educator who always had the best of her students as her primary focus."
As far as the number of people having an incredible impact as a player and coach in the international and collegiate game, Rudy Suwara is near the top. After playing in his first tournament in the Brooklyn YMCA in 1957, he suited up for his first USA Volleyball Nationals in Scranton, Pennsylvania the following year. From that point on he never looked back, building a Hall of Fame career.
His dominance in the international game began in 1964, netting him 11 consecutive years of USA Volleyball All-America honors. He was a member of the 1966 and 1970 squads that competed in the FIVB World Championships, and his team took home gold in the 1967 Pan American Games. Team USA continued to make headlines in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City becoming the first team to defeat the former Soviet Union.
Then came the decision to add a whistle to his volleyball wardrobe venturing into the world of coaching. His first job came as a UCLA Assistant Coach before taking the head coaching reigns at UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos went on to finish in the top-5 three of his four years there, but more impressively coached his team to a USVBA Collegiate and Open Division National Championships, the only college team to ever win those two titles during the same year.
But his playing days were not over. He headed south to become a player/coach for the San Diego Breakers of the IVA Professional Volleyball League. That was where he adopted the "Tazmanian Devil" nickname because of his ferocious style of play.
He stayed in the San Diego to take the head coaching job for both the men and women at San Diego State University in 1976. There he produced several All-Americans, including eventual Olympians Laurel Brassey and Angela Rock.
USA Volleyball has recognized Suwara on many occasions. He earned the All-Time Great Player Award and Medallion of Merit in 1976. Suwara later was presented the George J. Fisher Leader in Volleyball Award in 1994. As part of USA Volleyball's 75th Diamond Celebration in 2003, Suwara was included on the USA Volleyball 75th Anniversary All-Era Team for the 1953 to 1977 time period. Most recently in 2010, USAV presented him with the 2010 James E. Coleman USA National Team Award.
"What I best know Rudy for is his passion for volleyball," said San Diego Mesa Men's Head Coach John Landicho. "When you watch Rudy at work, one-on-one or in the practice gym, his love for the sport is readily apparent. And although he is "retired," that passion continues today."
The AVCA, with its headquarters in Lexington, Ky., is managed by Associations International. The mission of the AVCA is to develop the sport of volleyball and its coaches. With a membership of over 5,400 and counting, the AVCA provides a professional network for those individuals and companies dedicated to enhancing and promoting the sport. Members include collegiate, high school, club, youth and Olympic coaches, as well as volleyball club directors. The AVCA provides education to volleyball coaches, recognition of elite players and coaches, promotion of volleyball competitions throughout the world, and networking opportunities for volleyball products and services providers. Further information is available at www.avca.org.