volleyball

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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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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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