1980 U.S. Olympic Women’s Team Receives Honor

May 18, 2010, 4:20 p.m. (ET)

Bill Kauffman
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800
E-Mail: bill.kauffman@usav.org

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 18, 2010) – The 1980 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team has been selected for induction into the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2010, which was announced during a morning press conference on May 18 by the Colorado Springs Sports Commission.

The induction ceremony will take place on Oct. 27 at the Colorado Springs World Arena as the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame continues its tradition of honoring the rich, diverse legacy of the city’s sports history.

The 1980 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team was considered the favorites to win the gold medal at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. After finishing fifth at the 1978 FIVB World Championship, the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team stepped up its preparation for the 1980 Olympics as it moved to Colorado Spring to live and train full-time at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. The squad became the first “national team in resident” experiment in Olympic sport history in the United States.

“The move to Colorado Springs was a turning point for our team,” said Diane McCormick French, who was one of the 12 members on the 1980 U.S. Olympic Women’s Team. “We will always be grateful for the community's support back then, and we are truly honored to be selected to the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame.”

Coached by Dr. Arie Selinger 30 years ago, the 1980 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team of Janet Baier, Carolyn Becker, Rita Crockett, Patty Dowdell, Laurie Flachmeier Corbelli, Debbie Green, Flo Hyman, Laurel Brassey Iversen, Debbie Landreth Brown, Diane McCormick French, Terry Place and Sue Woodstra was not only striving for gold in 1980, but also producing the country’s first Olympic medal in the sport. However, the dreams of standing on the podium with gold medals around their necks at the Olympic Games in Moscow were shattered when the U.S. Olympic Committee’s House of Delegates, at the urging of then-President Jimmy Carter, voted to boycott the 1980 Olympiad to protest the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

“This is a tremendous honor for the 1980 U.S. Women’s Olympic Team to be recognized by the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame,” USA Volleyball Chief Executive Officer Doug Beal. “Not only was the team favored to win the gold in Moscow, it became a trendsetter for the then-recently established U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs as other sports saw the benefit of year-round training in a single location. This team played a key role in providing the new training center credibility for future team sports to train in Colorado Springs. Unfortunately, the team’s ultimate mark on history was denied with the 1980 boycott. Yet, this team forged the USA into being medal contenders in each of the subsequent Olympic Games. Many of these players have given back to the sport through the coaching ranks – on the National Team level and in the collegiate ranks – and other volleyball leadership positions.”

Selinger and a handful of players – Becker, Crockett, Corbelli, Green, Hyman and Woodstra – remained with the program in Colorado Springs following the boycott and went on to win the silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, losing to China in the gold-medal game. Brown later would serve as an assistant coach on the 1988 U.S. Olympic Team, while Woodstra returned to the Olympics in 2008 as an assistant coach with the U.S. Women’s Olympic Team that earned the silver medal in Beijing.

French, who still resides in the Colorado Springs area and was part of the 2008 U.S. Women’s Olympic Team staff as technical coordinator, fondly remembers the time the team spent in its new training home.

“The support we received from the City of Colorado Springs was overwhelming and the community really made us feel at home,” French said. “I will never forget the first match we played in the Springs at Coronado High School. The gym was packed and the marching band came streaming in from the four corners of the court prior to the anthem. We'd played in front of some big audiences overseas, but never had that kind of enthusiastic home crowd before. It was a tremendous welcome and the fans kept coming every time we played here. During one tour with Japan, we had to schedule a double-header to meet the demand for tickets. Since there was no gym at the OTC when we arrived, we learned our way around by training at almost every high school in town, the YMCA, the Boy's Club, Fort Carson, the Air Force Academy, Colorado College and Queen Palmer Elementary School. It seemed like the city had thrown open all the doors for us.”

Later this month, five members of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Volleyball Team – Debbie Brown, Laurie Corbelli, French, Laurel Iversen and Sue Woodstra – will meet in Kaua`i, Hawaii, as part of the team’s 30-Year Reunion celebration May 24-31. During the week, the five players will serve as clinicians for a volleyball clinic for 150 Kaua`i Club athletes and 40 coaches from the Hawaiian Islands. The Olympian’s Volleyball Clinic, in memory of teammate Flo Hyman and volleyball pioneer Pat McChesney, is limited by gym space and by clinicians, so it is targeting only young Kaua‘i Club volleyball players who have already made a commitment to the sport of volleyball. USA Volleyball is helping to support the clinic in the administration of the event. The Aloha Region, one of the 40 regions within USA Volleyball, is also sanctioning the clinic.

Other 2010 Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame inductees include Andy Gambucci (Colorado College ice hockey), Sherrice King (Rampart High School and University of Colorado basketball), Ken Brown (Wasson High School and Cornell University World Championship rower), Ken Hatfield (Air Force Academy football), Fred Whitacre (The Father of Baseball in Colorado Springs), David G. Elmore (Colorado Springs Skysox Owner and Founder, Sports Entrepreneur) and 1981 Mitchell High School State Football championship. Other awards presentations will have Dick Westbay presented the Col. F. Don Miller Award and Dr. Jamieson Kennedy honored as the Thayer Tutt Sportsman Award.

The Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame is presented for the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation by The Gazette and American National Bank. Reservations for tables or seats can be made by calling Sloane Pavalock at the Sports Corp (719) 634-7333, ext. 1009 or by e-mail at Sloane@thesportscorp.org. Prices are $2500.00 for a VIP table of 10 seats, $1000 for a patron table; $250 for a VIP seat, $100 for a patron seat. VIP seating includes priority seating location, complimentary wine and VIP pre-event reception and early start for the famed sports silent auction.

2010 Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame
1980 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team
Andy Gambucci, Colorado College Ice Hockey
Sherrice King, Rampart High & CU Basketball
Ken Brown, Wasson High & Cornell University World Championship Rower
Ken Hatfield, Air Force Football
Fred Whitacre, The Father of Baseball In Colorado Springs
David G. Elmore, Sky Sox Owner and Founder, Sports Entrepreneur
1981 Mitchell High State Football Champions
Col. F. Don Miller Award- Dick Westbay
Thayer Tutt Sportsman Award – Dr. Jamieson Kennedy