HOLYOKE, Mass. (October 12, 2006) – Six international greats of volleyball from Brazil, Hungary, Japan, Poland, Russia and the United States were inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in an afternoon ceremony at the birthplace of the sport.
Jackie Silva of Brazil, Endre Holvay of Hungary, Shigeo Yamada of Japan, Edward Skorek of Poland, Nina Smoleeva of the USSR/Russia and Bernie Holtzman of the United States were also honored at a dinner at the Log Cabin Banquet and Meeting House.
In addition to the induction of the six individuals, the Volleyball Hall of Fame presented the “Court of Honor” award to the Japan Volleyball Association in recognition of the organization’s commitment to the promotion of the sport of volleyball.
“We are excited about being recognized for our previous achievements,” said Norio Yamagishi, the managing director of the Japan Volleyball Association, when receiving the award. “We will continue to promote volleyball all over the world in the future.”
Established in 1927, the JVA is one of the most respected volleyball organizations in the world. Today, the JVA boasts more than 40,000 active members playing volleyball on high school, collegiate, national and international teams.
“I am really happy to be a part of this wonderful family of people honored by the Hall of Fame,” said Silva, who has been a volleyball icon for more than two decades. “This sport has filled my life, and it pleases me to give back to the kids through my programs.”
Best described by former teammates as determined and devoted, Silva has more than 100 combined wins at Volleyball and Beach Volleyball events. At 18, Silva finished seventh with the first Brazilian Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team in the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow and in 1984 in Los Angeles.
With her passion for Beach Volleyball, Silva dominated the sand throughout the late 1980s and into the 1990s. After developing her Beach Volleyball skills on the American domestic tours, Silva won the 1995 FIVB Tour Championships with Sandra Pires before the pair claimed the gold medals at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games and the 1997 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships in Los Angeles.
After winning 60 pro Beach Volleyball titles in 168 career events, the 44-year old Brazilian is now involved with “The Jackie Silva Institute”, an anti-drug abuse sports project that serves approximately 4,000 Brazilian children in 30 different communities.
A Budapest native, the 88-year old Holvay was introduced to volleyball as a high school student. As a competitive national player, he helped found the Hungarian Volleyball Federation. Holvay served the federation as a player, a coach and a referee. He also served two-terms as Hungarian Volleyball Federation President and as president of the Organizing and National Referees Committees.
The Federation has recognized Holvay for contributions to the sport with numerous accolades – the Memorial Diploma in 1977, Order of Merits in 1980, Centennial Medal in 1995, and the Silver Cross, which recognizes his “outstanding contribution to the world prestige and image of volleyball,” in 2002.
Since 1965, Holvay has served on the National Hungarian Olympic Committee. The committee has recognized him with its highest honors, including the Medal of Merit in 1998. His country has also recognized him with the Hungarian People’s Republic Sport Gold Medal in 1988, the Order Officer Cross in 1994, the Sports Prize in 1998 and the Youth and the Sports Minister’s Count Miksa Eszterhazy prize for life-works.
A former Japanese coach and team leader, the late Yamada helped his national team continue its international success from the Tokyo 1964 Olympics through the Seoul 1988 Summer Games. He was the head coach of Japan’s silver medal women’s team at the Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games.
In 1974, Yamada led his women’s team to the world championship in Guadalajara, Mexico. It went on to win the Olympic gold medal in 1976 in Montreal. In 1977, his Women’s National Team won the second Women’s World Cup, in Japan. Yamada also guided the team to win Bronze Medals at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich and the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. He was represented by his wife, son and several other family members.
Skorek captained the Polish National Team to the gold medal at the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games by defeating Russia in five sets as the Poles rallied from a 2-1 set deficit and 14-15 score in the third set. Entering the gold medal match, the Russians had not lost a single set in the Olympic competition.
Known as “the great bomber” for his cross-court shots and “straight-down spikes” the 63-year old Skorek, who played 12 years for Poland thanked his coaches, saying, “Without them I would not be here.”
Smoleeva, who represented the USSR in three consecutive Olympic Games, was “very glad to be apart of this ceremony; It will be a big memory in my heart for the rest of my life.”
After leading the USSR to gold medals at the Mexico City 1968 and the Munich 1972 Summer Games, Smoleeva and her teammates settled for the silver medal in the Montreal 1976 Olympics. In more than 10 years of international competition, she was also was part of gold medal teams at the 1970 World Championships and the 1973 World Cup.
Holtzman, who once said that “Volleyball is God’s gift to the beach bum,” entertained the crowds with his stories of his pioneering beach play and his volleyball exploits while in the military during World War II.
“I’ve met a lot of great people through this wonderful sport,” said the 84-year old Holtzman, who began playing volleyball on the beach in 1935. At age 13, he would find ways to travel from Hollywood to the Santa Monica Pier area to play.
Manny Saenz and Holtzman formed a near-unbeatable tandem on the beach, winning 10 “Open” tournaments beginning with the 1948 State Beach Men’s Open. Holtzman and 1988 Volleyball Hall of Fame inductee Gene Selznick formed another almost unbeatable combination as the two won 18 out of 20 “Open” tournaments beginning in 1955.