This history is a work in process. We encourage readers to send suggestions, additions and corrections.
Volleyball was invented by a YMCA physical education director named William G. Morgan in Holyoke Massachusetts in 1895. Originally called “Mintonette”, it was designed to be an indoor sport for older members of the local YMCA.
Although invented for older folks, teenagers Alfred Cain and Albert Blood may have been among the first local residents to play the sport, participating in a volleyball tournament at Camp Livingston, a YMCA camp on Conesus Lake, in the summer of 1920.
The next local mention of volleyball was in July 1927 when the Nunda News reported on a proposal to create a community playground behind Bell Memorial Library. A tennis court had already been set up earlier, but proponents hoped to add swings, a quoit pit, “sand tables for the little ones”, a story telling table and “volleyball and net.” to the grounds. (The improved playground did go into operation by August, though it not known if a volleyball and net were indeed purchased.)
Volleyball became a competitive sport in December 1935 when a “play day” for Livingston County schools was held in Geneseo. Five schools participated: Geneseo, Avon, Dansville, Mt. Morris and Nunda. Boys and girls competed in basketball, volleyball, ping-pong, and shuffleboard throughout the morning. Then after lunch “all-county” teams were selected in each sport and final games were played. The successful event was moved to January and expanded the following year. Similar events continued to be held for several years.
By the end of the 1930s the sport had become a regular part of the intramural program at both Nunda and Dalton schools. The Nunda girls had a junior high school volleyball league in 1942, the unbeaten “Yankees” outplaying the “Indians” and Dodgers”. Senior High girls also had an intramural volleyball league. By this time volleyball was also part of area summer camps and the local summer recreation programs. The Nunda school also sponsored an “adult night” at the high school in 1941 that drew 30 people to play a variety of sports including volleyball. Dalton had its own open recreation night that included the sport.
A Nunda volleyball team began to formally compete on an interscholastic level in 1947. The earlier county “play days” had evolved by this time into a winter tournament where teams from participating schools competed for the county title in several sports. In a March 14, 1947 Nunda News article entitled “Nunda to Enter County Tournament,” Coach “Tink” MacVean wrote “ in an effort to give training in a wider variety of athletics and to give more fellows a chance to participate, Nunda will enter the country tournament in four minor sports. These are badminton, coached by Mr. Burton; ping pong by Mr. Roberts; bowling by Mr. Coughlin; and volleyball by yours truly. About forty fellows turned out for the several teams and are gradually being weeded out so that a good showing may be made in each contest. Winners of the tournament will represent Livingston County in sectional competition. A person may represent the county in only one event.”
Nunda Central School won its first volleyball tournament in 1951. The team, composed of Dick Mann, Jack Lee, Julian Stamp, Peter Pagano, Bob Bryant, Larry Russell, “big” Phil Kane and Dick Walker, beat York and Caledonia for the title. The players competed in sectional play on April 7, losing in the early rounds, but this was the beginning of a proud era for Nunda Volleyball.
Over the next twenty years the Nunda boys won the county volleyball title at least twelve times. For several years participation was limited to boys who did not participate in basketball, but this restriction was lifted by 1969. Boys volleyball ended in the 1970s, replaced by girls volleyball in 1975. Kathy Ritter was the coach. The girl’s season was earlier, between soccer and basketball, and consisted of a series of regular scheduled matches ending in sectional play. Although their first season ended with 2 wins and 18 loses, it was a start and they would win divisional titles in 1984, 1989 and 2004.
To this day, volleyball continues to be a popular part of Keshequa gym classes, intramurals, and interscholastic play.