Kemner Enshrined into Volleyball Hall of Fame

By Bill Kauffman | Oct. 18, 2013, 12 a.m. (ET)

HOLYOKE, Mass. (Oct. 18, 2013) – Three-time U.S. Olympic Women's Volleyball Team player Caren Kemner (Quincy, Ill.) was one of three legendary individuals enshrined into the Volleyball Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2013 on Friday evening Holyoke, Mass., the sport's birthplace. The Volleyball Hall of Fame also recognized the 14 founding National Federations of the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) as its Court of Honor during the gala event.

Along with Kemner, the Class of 2013 consists of women’s beach volleyball player Natalie Cook of Australia and men’s indoor volleyball player Vyacheslav Zaytsev of Russia. The Volleyball Hall of Fame now has a total of 115 inductees representing 21 different countries.

“Natalie Cook, Caren Kemner and Vyacheslav Zaytsev made unique and lasting impressions on our sport and the Volleyball Hall of Fame is honored to memorialize their accomplishments here in Holyoke,” Volleyball Hall of Fame Executive Director George Mulry said. “It was wonderful to have five representatives of the FIVB founding National Federations present for the Court of Honor recognition. Volleyball is truly a global sport and it is special when people from around the world are able to travel to Holyoke and experience the birthplace of their beloved sport.”

Kemner, a dominating outside hitter on both offense and defense, competed in three consecutive Olympic Games starting in 1988 and helped the United States capture the bronze medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. She was selected to the “All Spectacular Team” following the 1992 Olympics. Kemner led the United States to its first FIVB World Grand Prix gold medal in 1995.

“The moment I found out I was being inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame was the greatest gift Natalie (Cook) and I could ever imagine,” Kemner said. “But it gave me yet another gift back. It allowed me to kind of reflect how a kid from Quincy, Ill., could enter the Hall of Fame. In the early 1980s, my high school coach took us to a game up at DePaul University where the U.S. Women’s National Team was playing Japan. I was sitting next to one of my teammates, and she jokingly said maybe one day that will be you. And I was like ‘sure.’ In April, when (Volleyball Hall of Fame Selection co-chair and USA Volleyball CEO) Doug Beal sent me an email with congratulations on being inducted, I so happened to be sitting next to that same teammate on a train ride to Chicago for a speaking engagement. I could not get past that first line of the email because I thought it was crazy… All these years later as a young kid who just loved playing sports no matter what it was – it just came full circle. It is just so amazing for me. I am so honored. I am just overwhelmed. I have had a wonderful career. People who have asked me who my favorite teammate, and I say them all because I wouldn’t have this opportunity without them.”

Kemner was a two-sport star all the way through college with softball being her other main sport. However, volleyball challenged her in ways that other sports could not.

“Having played so many different sports, I felt like volleyball was the one sport that challenged me athletically as far as coordination, but intellectually as well,” Kemner said. “It is a very intelligent sport. Everything changes on a dime. Nothing is ever the same. I have played the game for 25 years or so, and there was never a play the same, never a contact the same, never was the score the same. I know a lot of sports can say the same. But when you have six players on your side of the court, and your literally trying to move together in sync – I just find it amazing to play at that high of level.”

Cook is the only athlete – male or female – to have participated in all five Olympic Games beach volleyball events since its introduction at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Along with partner and 2007 Volleyball Hall of Fame inductee Kerri Pottharst, she captured the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games gold medal in beach volleyball after earning the bronze medal at the inaugural 1996 Olympic Games for beach volleyball.

Zaytsev earned three Olympic Games medals as the setter for the Soviet Union. After aiding the Soviet Union to the silver medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, Zaytsev reached the top step of the Olympic podium with gold in front of the home crowd at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Zaytsev returned to the podium at the 1988 Olympics with the silver medal. He helped the Soviet Union win the FIVB World Championships in 1978 and 1982.

The Court of Honor recognized the 14 National Federations that met in Paris in April 1947 and worked to establish the FIVB. The countries who were present at the 1947 meeting included Belgium, Brazil, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, France, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Uruguay, United States and Yugoslavia. Today the FIVB counts 220 affiliated federations making it the largest international federation affiliated to and recognized by the International Olympic Committee.

The Court of Honor was established in 1988 to honor an organization or team for its significant contributions and commitment to the sport of volleyball.

The induction class is elected via a vote of current Volleyball Hall of Fame inductees. A short biographical sketch on each inductee and the Court of Honor can be found below with an excerpt from their acceptance speech. In addition to the inductees, the Volleyball Hall of Fame honored Dinn Bros. as its William G. Morgan Award recipient and Joel Dearing with the Mintonette Medallion of Merit award.

The Induction Gala Dinner and Ceremony, presented by Spalding, is part of a two-day calendar of events recognizing the three individuals along with the special Court of Honor representatives. On Thursday evening, the three inductees attended an invite-only Mayor’s Reception, presented by the Dowd Agencies, at the historic Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke. Earlier on Friday the inductees took part in the Ring and Plaque Ceremony presented by Holyoke Medical Center at the Volleyball Hall of Fame Exhibit Hall. Prior to the Induction Gala Dinner and Ceremony, Mizuno presented a cocktail hour Induction Meet and Greet for the public to interact with the inductees. The induction weekend was capped by an Induction After-Party at the Volleyball Hall of Fame with live entertainment and socializing with the honorees.

Other 2013 Volleyball Hall of Fame Inductee Quotes

Natalie Cook Quotes

“It is a humbly honor to be in Holyoke,” Cook said. “When I was first told I was being inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame, I had to Google Holyoke, Massachusetts. I did not realize that this was the birthplace of volleyball, which is a sin. Many people need to understand the pride of this city and what it means to them to have volleyball as the birthplace here in Holyoke. It should be seen by everyone in the world. So everyone watching on the Internet and all around the world, you must see Holyoke, Mass., if you have any volleyball blood in your body.”

“I started as an 8-year-old swimming, and it was my dream to go to the Olympic Games,” Cook said. “And I was watching on TV some of the swimmers, and I said I want to do that. And I had no idea that it would evolve through many sports – golf, tennis, teak won do, skateboarding, water polo – that I would come across a notice on the school notice board at the age of 14 that said ‘Volleyball trip to Canada and America.’ I raced upstairs to the PE department and I said ‘What is volleyball.’ At that stage, I didn’t really care what it was. I wanted to go to Disneyland and the mountains in Canada and travel the world. As a young kid, I wanted to travel and that is what got me into volleyball. And when I got into the sport, I fell in love with it instantly. A total of 24 years of my life have been dedicated to this magical sport called volleyball. In 1993 when it beach volleyball became an official Olympic sport, I switched to beach volleyball. To go to five Olympic Games, with 2007 inductee Kerri Pottharst in 1996 and 2000 together, it was pretty special to win two Olympic medals and a gold medal at Bondi beach at home…I have had three wonder Olympic partners (Pottharst, Nicole Sanderson, Tamsin Hinchley), and a wonderful journey with this sport.”

“This sport has made me the person I am today,” Cook said. “I just hope that I can give something more back to it than it has been given to me. To be inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in the Class of 2013, I am very, very honored and humbled.”

Vyacheslav Zaytsev Quote

“The Hall we visited today is the Volleyball Hall of Fame,” Zaytsev said through an interpreter. “It is about fame and glory. The Hall is my own home because of these reasons. Now I am in this Hall with this induction. Thank you to everybody who helped me to be here in my home.”

2013 Volleyball Hall of Fame Inductee Biographical Sketches

Natalie Cook

For five-time Olympian Natalie Cook, success started with a dream, passion and sheer determination. A visionary in every aspect of life - sport, business, and relationships – Cook is the only athlete (male or female) to compete in all five Olympic Games in beach volleyball since the introduction of the sport at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. She is also the first Australian female to compete in five consecutive summer Olympics in any sport.

Born in 1975, in Townsville, Queensland, Cook was destined to succeed and never afraid to dream big. Cook started playing volleyball when she enrolled in pre-medicine college courses at the University of Queensland. Cook captained the Australian Indoor Junior Team in 1992 and in 1993 she transitioned to playing beach volleyball. Just one year later she decided to turn professional and gave up her pursuit of a medical degree.

In her years on the pro circuit, Cook has wins in both domestic and international tournaments including five national championship victories, 135 International events played, 26 podium finishes and 42 final-four finishes. Her 165 International FIVB events played is the most of any female player.

In 1996, Cook teamed up with 2007 Volleyball Hall of Fame inductee Kerri Pottharst to become one of the most dominant teams. The “dynamic duo” won bronze at the inaugural Olympic Games beach volleyball event in 1996 after defeating three teams from the United States. The pair followed that performance with gold at the 2000 Sydney Games in front of a wildly partisan home crowd. The duo posted a 5-0 mark at the 2000 Olympics and were presented the Order of Australia, their home country’s highest honor. Afterwards, Cook and Pottharst were included in the FIVB’s Team of the Decade.

Cook earned the bronze medal at the 2003 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships playing with Nicole Sanderson and the pair went on to finish fourth at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Cook later partnered with Tamsin Hinchley in the next two Olympics in 2008 and 2012.

In addition to her sporting career, Cook is active on the public speaking circuit, has written motivational books and launched Sandstorm, which is her own beach volleyball-related business that provides opportunities for others to achieve their dreams.

As a true ambassador for the sport of beach volleyball, her remarkable longevity and success, as well as for her work in developing the sport away from the sand, we welcome Natalie Cook as a 2013 Inductee to the Volleyball Hall of Fame.

Caren Kemner

A native of Quincy, Illinois, Caren Kemner distinguished herself as a dominating outside hitter who could attack and play defense equally well for so many years with the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team.

Kemner graduated from Quincy Notre Dame High School in 1983 where she led the team to an undefeated state championship in 1980 as a sophomore and was a two-time all-American. She also won two state championships as a stand-out softball player. Kemner played volleyball and softball for two years at the University of Arizona until 1985. She joined the U.S. National Volleyball Team following her college career and competed in three consecutive Olympic Games starting in 1988. Kemner helped the United States capture the bronze medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Known as a fiery competitor and for her aggressive state of play, Kemner was considered one of the best female volleyball players on the planet during her career. She was selected to the “All Spectacular Team” following the 1992 Olympics where she compiled a team-high 127 kills and seven aces. Kemner helped lead the United States to its very first FIVB World Grand Prix gold medal in 1995 and holds bronze medals from the 1990 FIVB World Championship and the 1986 Goodwill Games.

Kemner was honored with the most outstanding player award at the 1991 FIVB World Cup and later selected as the FIVB most valuable player for the 1991 season. Kemner, the 1985 USA Volleyball Female Rookie of the Year, was a six-time recipient of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Female Volleyball Athlete of the Year and a five-time winner of the USA team most valuable player award during her 15 years competing for the USA. She was selected to USA Volleyball’s 75th Anniversary All-Era Team for the 1978 to 2002 time period.

Kemner played professional club volleyball in Italy, Brazil and Japan. In 1999, she competed on the AVP professional beach volleyball tour partnering with legendary Hall of Famer Karolyn Kirby.

Presently, Kemner is in her second season as the head coach of the Culver-Stockton College women’s volleyball team and is director of the Riverfront Athletic Association, based in her hometown of Quincy. She also served as head coach at her alma mater Quincy Notre Dame High School for two seasons, leading the team to a regional championship in 2010.

For her ability to dominate on the court with her thunderous spikes and relentless defense we welcome Caren Kemner as a 2013 Inductee to the Volleyball Hall of Fame.

Vyacheslav Alekseyevich Zaytsev

Born in Leningrad in 1952, Vyacheslav Zaytsev was one of the most talented players to ever step on the court for the former Soviet Union.

Zaytsev paired with teammate Aleksandr Savin, a 2010 Volleyball Hall of Fame inductee, to form one of the most dominating setter-hitter pairs to ever play the game. Zaytsev was adept at delivering quick sets to his favorite hitter leading to dominating victories and international titles along the way. Zaytsev was also well-known as among the best blocking setters in the game.

Making his debut in 1969 with Russian club Avtomobilist as a 17 year-old schoolboy, Zaytsev quickly established himself as a leader and force on the court. In 1971 he won his first European Championship and by 1977 he had become captain of the national team for USSR.

Zaytsev was a key player for Avtomobilist and the Soviet National team throughout most of the 1970s and 1980s – 20-year span of international competition that includes two gold medals and two silver medals at the FIVB World Championship, two gold medals and a silver at the FIVB World Cup, and seven gold medals at the European Championships among many other accomplishments.

Zaytsev was considered one of the best setters in the world, being named the most valuable player of the 1981 FIVB World Cup, best defensive player of the 1977 FIVB World Cup and included in the list of the annual 24 best players of the USSR 17 times.

Perhaps Zaytsev’s biggest accomplishments, however, came at the Olympic Games. Representing the USSR in three Olympic Games, Zaytsev netted the gold medal at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow and led his team to the silver medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games and again at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

He was one of the first Russian players to play professional club volleyball abroad and spent five seasons competing in Italy from 1987 to 1992. He played for Olio Venturi Spoleto the first two seasons with the team moving into the top Serie A1 division the second season. Zaytsev played in Serie A2 the next two seasons with Sanyo Agrigento and G.S. Citta di Castello before his final season with Citta di Castello returning to the top division. At the age of 40, Zaytsev played his last International match while playing for the Swiss club “Lugano” and quickly focused full-time on coaching.

As a coach, he adapted many of the volleyball techniques introduced by other coaches to retain the Russian pre-eminence in men's volleyball competition. He coached the Russian Men's National Team from 1996-1997 and led them to the bronze medal at the 1997 FIVB World League. He coached the Belogorie club to the silver medal in the Russian Championship five times and in 2007, he helped the Dynamo women’s club win the Russian Championship.

Zaytsev has been recognized with countless awards throughout his career including honors from the Olympic Committee of Russia and the Volleyball Federation of Russia.

For his long career, remarkable success, impeccable setting skills on the court and his leadership we welcome and recognize Vyacheslav Zaytsev as a 2013 Inductee to the Volleyball Hall of Fame.

Court of Honor Award - 14 Founding Federations of FIVB

Visionary leaders create great organizations; relentless founders keep the greatness going.

A decisive moment in the history of volleyball’s first 100 years was certainly that of the founding of the FIVB (Federation Internationale de Volleyball) when in April 1947 representatives of 14 countries (Belgium, Brazil, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, France, Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Uruguay, USA and Yugoslavia) met in Paris under the leadership of France’s Paul Libaud to create the FIVB. Libaud, a 2009 Volleyball Hall of Fame inductee, was elected as the first president of the newly minted FIVB.

The first serious activity aimed at the founding of international volleyball was an informal meeting held at the Graf Coffee House in Prague between representatives of the Polish, French and Czech Volleyball Federations. This meeting laid the foundation for an autonomous volleyball commission charged with promoting volleyball in all countries, creating a unified set of rules for the game, organizing championships, preparing for the inclusion of volleyball into the Olympic Games and the convening of a Constitutive Congress in Paris to be held in 1947.

The organization of this first Constitutive Congress was entrusted to Libaud, who was the president of the French Volleyball Federation. The meeting took place in Paris from April 18 to 20, 1947, in the splendid rooms of the Grand Hotel with the participation of 14 Federations some of which had been delegated to act for other Federations as well.

The FIVB was born!

The FIVB organized its first World Championship for men in 1949 and followed with the first World Championship for women in 1952. The actions set in motion by the FIVB founding Federations also enabled the sport of volleyball to reach the grandest stage. In 1959, the IOC included volleyball for both men and women onto the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games schedule. The addition of women’s volleyball was a historical addition as it was the first team sport for women to be played at the Olympic Games. Beach volleyball would later be added to the Olympic Games schedule in 1996 with the inaugural event held in Atlanta.

By 1955 the 14 founding federations had grown to 45. 1964 saw the explosion to 89 affiliates. In 1968, the national federations affiliated with the FIVB totaled 101, distributed over the five continents: 25 in Europe, 25 in Asia, 25 in Africa, 11 in South America, and 15 in NORCECA. The number continued to grow to 160 in 1986, and in 2013, the Federation counts 220 affiliated federations; making the FIVB the largest international federation affiliated to and recognized by the International Olympic Committee!

The FIVB was founded by people who dedicated themselves to developing, promoting and nurturing the sport of Volleyball. Mindful of the past, they were focused on the future, for themselves and their descendants. This focus is essential for progress. FIVB moves forward by cultivating a culture of exploration and the search for something new. That, of course, was the culture of its Founders. In place of the divine right of Authority, they maintained that FIVB was established to protect the divine rights of the people in the sport. In place of going after, FIVB pioneered innovations and creativities, appealing to “the nature of sport”.

The Volleyball Hall of Fame is proud to welcome the 14 Founding Federations of FIVB into the Court of Honor in recognition of their contributions to establishing the international governing body for the sport of volleyball.

Joel Dearing – Mintonette Medallion of Merit

Joel Dearing is regarded nationally as one of the sport’s best coaches and he has the resume to prove it.

Dearing spent 22 seasons as the head women's volleyball coach and associate professor of physical education at Springfield College. During his tenure at Springfield College, Dearing’s record sits at 595-196, a winning percentage of .752, and he ranks in the top-10 in Division III history with a 728-310 (.701) overall mark in 30 seasons as a women’s volleyball coach.

Championships and post-season competition are hallmarks of the Dearing era. In his final year at the helm of the Pride, Dearing earned NEWMAC Coach of the Year honors and eventually led Springfield to the NCAA Regional Championship match before his squad ended the season with a 31-5 record.

Under Dearing’s reign, Springfield College had 19-straight seasons with at least 20 wins and never finished a season with a losing record. In four of his last 10 seasons, his teams have captured at least 30 wins.

In the spring of 2006, USA Volleyball, the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), and Molten USA recognized Dearing with the Trailblazer Award for his role in establishing the Molten Division III Men’s Invitational Volleyball Championship in 1997.

Prior to joining the Springfield College staff, Dearing served as the director of athletics at Roger Williams University (R.I.), where he started both the women's and men's volleyball programs. While there, Dearing compiled an overall record of 174-136. His women's teams posted a 133-114 mark in eight years, while the men's squads had a three-year record of 41-22.

A USAV Level III accredited coach and member of the USA Volleyball cadre, Dearing has conducted clinics throughout the United States, in Aruba, Argentina, Bermuda, China and Ireland.

He is also the author of a pair of books entitled Volleyball Fundamentals and The Untold Story of William G. Morgan, Inventor of Volleyball.

Dearing served as a member of the Volleyball Hall of Fame Board of Directors and Induction Selection Committee Chair for a number of years.

For his tireless advocacy for the growth of volleyball and the Volleyball Hall of Fame, we present Joel Dearing with the Mintonette Medallion of Merit.