Holyoke - Massachusetts, October 13, 2004 - This weekend, the volleyball world will have its eyes on Holyoke, the birthplace of the game, as the Volleyball Hall of Fame will hold its annual induction celebration. The weekend calendar is full of court happenings, the highlight being the induction ceremony honoring American beach star Karolyn Kirby, Seiji Oko of Japan, Josf Musil of the Czech Republic and Cuba's Mireya Luis.
The 19th enshrinement will be at 2 p.m. Friday at the Hall of Fame, following a noon luncheon at the Log Cabin Banquet and Meeting House. There also will be a reception and dinner honoring the inductees Friday evening at the Holyoke Holiday Inn. The evening schedule will include video highlights of the inductees' careers.
Kirby played 10 seasons in the Women's Professional Volleyball Association and the Association of Volleyball Professionals, the governing body of the beach volleyball in the 1980s and 1990s.
She was recognized by the Federation Internationale de Volleyball, (FIVB) as the best player in the world for three years, 1992-1994, and was named the most valuable player by the WPVA four times, also earning "Best Setter" honors six times.
Kirby is a 1979 graduate of Brookline High School where she starred for four years and was named the player of the year by the Boston Globe in 1979, after leading her team to a state championship.
Kirby recently was named a "Top Ten Player of the Century" by USA Volleyball, and has settled close to home, serving as the assistant coach for the University of New Hampshire women's volleyball team.
Oko was the ace spiker, known as the "power hitting cannon of the world" for the gold medal-winning Japan men's team at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany. He was also a force in 1968, leading the team to a silver medal in Mexico.
Luis is considered to be one of the greatest players of all time. Her physical power and spectacular jumping abilities helped her National Team of Cuba to Olympic gold in Barcelona, (1992), Atlanta (1996) and in Sydney, Australia, (2000). Her list of medals and awards is staggering and includes three World Cup "MVP" awards.
Musil was the key part of the great Czechoslovakian teams of the 1950s and 1960s. The highlights include a silver medal at the 1964 Olympics, the first year that volleyball became an Olympic sport, and a bronze Olympic medal in 1968. He was recently bestowed the "Czech Play Fair" award in recognition for his life-long sporting achievements.
As part of the Induction Celebration, the Volleyball Hall of Fame Tournament, a 16-team, women's collegiate tournament will be held Oct. 22-23 at Smith, Mount Holyoke, Springfield and Amherst colleges. Events also will include a Saturday coach's clinic at Holyoke Community College, featuring Doug Beal, who coached the U.S. Olympic men's team to a gold medal in 1984.
By Rick Lajoie