FIVB President Makes Historic Visit to USAV Annual Meetings

By Bill Kauffman ( | May 25, 2017, 11:37 a.m. (ET)

USA Volleyball Board of Directors with USA Volleyball CEO Jamie Davis (third from left), FIVB President Dr. Ary Graca (center) and USAV Board Chair Lori Okimura (third from right) locked in arms. NORCECA President Cristobal Marte sitting with the leadership group from USA Volleyball, FIVB and NORCECA. (second from right).

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (May 25, 2017) – Dr. Ary S. Graça F°, president of the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), made an historic visit to the United States to meet and work with USA Volleyball CEO Jamie Davis, NORCECA President Cristobal Marte Hoffiz and members of the USA Volleyball Board of Directors and other lay leader of the National Governing Body for the sport in the United States. This is the first such occasion for the FIVB president to meet and attend a USA Volleyball Board Meeting.

Getting straight to work on day one, President Graça was met Wednesday by chairman of the board, Lori Okimura, also a member of the FIVB's beach volleyball commission and president of the NORCECA marketing commission. They engaged in a working session to review the new strategic vision of USA Volleyball, covering many topics including humanitarian issues, joint development of future USAV-sanctioned international sports properties, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games preview and sponsorship opportunities for beach, indoor & sitting volleyball in the United States.

They were joined by Davis to further discuss the prospects for a USA-based professional league, and worked with Dr. William Briner, chairman of the USAV Gender Committee, on the issue of the IOC's ongoing development of guidelines for transgender athlete eligibility. The seven-hour working session concluded with a very positive meeting with Brent Rasmussen, sitting volleyball Paralympian and Paralympic representative to the USA Volleyball Board of Directors. As one of the few national federations that governs Olympic and Paralympic volleyball disciplines, USA Volleyball has embarked on a mission of inclusion and will receive the support from FIVB to highlight sitting volleyball alongside beach and indoor.

President Graça addressed the USA Volleyball Board of Directors at their annual meeting on Thursday and work with the USAV Board to implement the FIVB Nucleus Project in the USA. During his visit, President Graça will also engage in an important discussion about beach volleyball with independent board member Bill Barnum and Olympic gold medalist Todd Rogers joining the working group. He will also tour the USA Volleyball Open National Championship, one of the largest adult national championships events for adults in any sport held in the United States. The event is being held at the Minneapolis Convention Center. President Graça has himself competed in the event four times.

“USA Volleyball is pleased to welcome FIVB President Ary Graça to our annual board meeting,” Okimura said. “We have engaged in important discussions with the FIVB and NORCECA here in Minneapolis, and shared very open and honest communication about the new vision for our national governing body. We look forward to the next few days of working sessions and meetings to further strengthen our business relationship, and hear directly from President Graça what role the United States will play in the FIVB's future plan.”

President Graça described his visit as a “historic day” that exceeded his high expectations, with the lengthy meetings building on the FIVB’s existing strong relationship with USAV and confirming that the two organizations are absolutely aligned and committed to the same cause.

Reflecting on a productive first day, President Graça said: “Today’s meetings confirmed to me that USAV can help us achieve our strategic plan which has been designed to help the FIVB realize its vison of becoming the world’s number-one family sport. Only hard work, open dialogue and unity with our National Federations will help us progress and take volleyball to the next level. These meetings never fail to excite me. I am full of energy and passion for our sport and it is a great honor for me to travel around the world for its benefit.”

The FIVB and President Graça are continuously looking to grow volleyball on a global scale, but being the world’s biggest sports market, the U.S. is a key area of focus for the FIVB. According to the FIVB, the vision and mission of USAV to engage and inspire through a cultivated passion for the game and to lead, serve and grow all areas of the sport of volleyball, is also closely connected to the FIVB’s strategic aims.

Also on Wednesday night, President Graça and Mr. Marte attended USA Volleyball’s 72nd annual Dorothy C. Boyce Recognitions and Awards Banquet as nine individuals were recognized for their accomplishments in the sport.