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Volleyball attracting more Blacks

This column continues the Only One series in which this reporter shares his experiences as the only African American on the scene. 

A rare sight indeed — more than a couple of female Black players playing big-time volleyball at the U of M Sports Pavilion. Texas (four) and North Carolina (five), who played Dec. 13 in the NCAA Minneapolis Regionals finals, combined for nearly 10 Black players. “A lot of African American girls are starting to play volleyball,” notes Texas Associate Head Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Tonya Johnson. “Our kids get to show off their true athleticism in terms of how high they can jump, their speed and their quickness.”


Three such players — North Carolina opposite hitter Chaniel Nelson and Texas middle blockers Khat Bell and Chiaka Ogbogu — were among the seven-player All-Region Team selected by the media, including the MSR’s Only One. Continue Reading →

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Atlanta Boom foil the myth that Black girls don’t play volleyball

Their message to local Black females: ‘Get out there and try’

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


Historically for many Blacks, volleyball is often seen as a too-costly country-club sport. Therefore, it’s unusual, especially in this area, to see a squad in action entirely comprised of Blacks. We observed just such a squad at the recent 2014 USA Volleyball Girls Junior Nationals at the Minneapolis Convention Center June 22 — July 3. Del and Arleen Hughes founded the Atlanta (Ga.) Boom Volleyball Institute in 1996. Arleen quickly pointed out that Del “is the visionary of the program. Continue Reading →

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Ever wonder how much college sports cost? Here are more numbers.



All 23 University of Minnesota sports teams generate revenue, but only football, men’s basketball and men’s hockey in the last two years have been profitable, according to reports supplied by the school. Each sport’s total operating revenue includes but is not limited to: ticket sales, state or other governmental support, NCAA/conference distributions, broadcast rights, program ad concessions sales, parking, licensing and advertisements, and endowment and investment income.  


After expenses, football ($32 million) in 2012 and 2013 made nearly twice what men’s hoops earned ($18.6 million) and thrice what men’s puck ($9.5 million) made.  The other Gopher programs, however, spent at least twice as much as they reportedly made:

Women’s hockey — $1.6 million in revenues; expenses — $2.4 million

Women’s basketball — $1.2 million in revenues; expenses — $5.1 million

Rowing — $874,000 revenues; expenses — $2.2 million

Women’s track/cross-country — $837,000 revenues; expenses — $2.4 million

Baseball — $767,000 revenues; expenses — $2.2 million

Women’s swimming & diving — $648,000 revenues; expenses — $1.7 million

Women’s gymnastics — $418,000 revenues; expenses — $1.3 million

Wrestling — $550,000 revenues; expenses — $1.8 million

Volleyball — $404,000 revenues; expenses — $2.3 million

Softball — $359,000 revenues; expenses — $1.7 million

Women’s tennis — $307,000 revenues; expenses — $975,000

Men’s swimming & diving — $294,000 revenues; expenses — $1.5 million

Men’s golf — $252,000 revenues; expenses — $1 million

Women’s golf — $232,000 revenues; expenses — $885,000

Soccer — $308,000 revenues; expenses — $1.5 million

Men’s gymnastics — $182,000 revenues; expenses — $1 million

Men’s tennis — $162,000 revenues; expenses — $896,000

Men’s track and field/cross-country — $377,000 revenues; expenses — $2.2 million


To those opponents who profess college sports spend too much and bring in little to show for it, these numbers support their argument. But for those who argue that women’s non-revenue sports (all but basketball and volleyball) fall in this category as loss leaders, their male non-revenue counterparts are just as much ‘losers.’

Finally, in the final analysis, running a Division I sports program is expensive. Based on the aforementioned figures, we now know just how much. Continue Reading →

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One Black coach, a few Black players reach NCAA women’s volleyball playoffs




Each of the four teams that played in the NCAA first- and second-round volleyball matches hosted last weekend by the University of Minnesota had at least one player of color: Cheyanne James (Radford), Alexis Austin (Colorado), Victoria Hurtt and Erin Taylor (Iowa State), and two Puerto Rico-born players: Iowa State’s Neira Ortiz Ruiz and the Gophers’ Daly Santana. James was second on her squad in kills — one of a school-record five players receiving all-conference honors. Hurtt thrice led Iowa State with 20-plus kills. Colorado Coach Liz Kritza called the sophomore Austin “team-oriented.”

While seeing a low single-digit number of players of color at a volleyball match, even a post-season match, wasn’t that surprising, discovering that one of the schools was coached by a Black female was a surprise, especially since, unlike the other three schools, her photo was not included in her school’s pre-game notes. Marci Jenkins last weekend completed her sixth season at Radford (Va.) University, which won the Big South conference this year. Continue Reading →

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A father’s investment pays off

Recruitment for college volleyball does not come cheap
All four volleyball teams at the September 6-7 early season tournament at the Sports Pavilion each had exactly one player of color: Daly Santana (Minnesota), Marquita Marshall (Ball State), Melanie Miller (Western Illinois) and Jeme Obeime (Duke). When asked why college volleyball — at least the teams that play the Gophers or, for that matter, the Gophers themselves — still lacks diversity, U of M Coach Hugh McCutcheon

responded, “I really can’t answer that. I do know that USA Volleyball is committed to trying to grow the game.”

My best estimate over my years covering Minnesota volleyball is that I probably can use at least four hands to accurately count the number of Black female volleyball players in Minnesota uniforms. “We are recruiting the best players we can, and that’s it,” stated McCutcheon. “More diversity is a real important part of our development. There’s no question that some of the best athletes are people of color.”

Unfortunately, in this second decade of the 21st Century, volleyball, instead of attracting more Blacks, seems to be repellent when it comes to urban females: It seemingly still reeks with country club residue. Continue Reading →

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