Today we look back at the four years of fame that men’s volleyball entered the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
In 1983, Hardin-Simmons University and a few other brave southern schools began to build a men’s volleyball team with whomever they could find on campus. This made for a rough first season because they lacked resources, did not travel to compete and had a team of inexperienced players. (The Brand of Hardin-Simmons University (Abilene, Tex.), Vol. 74, No. 1, Ed. 1, Thursday, September 25, 1986).
The first year proved to be the only bad year for the Hardin-Simmons men because the very next year, in 1984, they won the “first Trans American Conference Men’s Volleyball Championship.” Coach Vinson led them to victory once again in 1985, but they were bested by Arkansas-Little Rock in 1986. Sadly, in 1987 the NCAA reduced the number of required sports for Division I, so men’s volleyball was cut from the southern schools. Coach Vinson said, “I’m hot about it because it’s going to hurt men’s volleyball in the South.” (The Brand of Hardin-Simmons University (Abilene, Tex.), Vol. 74, No. 1, Ed. 1, Thursday, September 25, 1986).
The end of men’s volleyball hurt more because they were just getting started. Athletes from out of state had been calling Coach Vinson about wanting to come to Abilene to play, and the NCAA had begun to talk about making regional and national championships for men’s volleyball.
Men’s volleyball had met its demise in the South, but devoted coaches and players have been trying to bring it back ever since. City leagues and club teams have become more popular in the South, so there is hope that maybe one-day men’s volleyball will find its way back to Southern universities.
In the meantime, you can support the Hardin-Simmons women’s volleyball team. Their next home game is Tuesday, Oct. 12, at 6:00 p.m. against Le Tourneau in the Mabee Complex.