2014 AVCA Hall of Fame Class Announced
LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 19, 2014) - The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) is proud to announce the 12th annual AVCA Hall of Fame class. Sandy Hoffman, Ruth Nelson and Sandy Vong will all be honored in ceremonies at the 2014 Jostens Coaches Honors Luncheon, held in conjunction with the 2014 AVCA Convention in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The AVCA annually recognizes those individuals who have reached the pinnacle of their profession and the sport, with the AVCA Hall of Fame. The first AVCA Hall of Fame class, a total of 23 individuals who had earned either the AVCA Founders Award or AVCA Excellence in Education Award, was honored at the 2003 AVCA Annual Convention. In total, there are 66 members of the AVCA Hall of Fame.
Few coaches and administrators have been as instrumental to the sport of volleyball, and specifically the New England Region, than Bentley University Head Coach Sandy Hoffman. 32 years at the helm of the Falcons, Hoffman is the winningest volleyball coach in New England and ranks fourth all time in NCAA Division II in wins with 758. Her squads have won the Northeast-10 Conference Regular Season Title outright nine times while earning conference coach of the year on eight occasions. However, her impact on volleyball goes above and beyond her win total or any individual accomplishment.
She has consistently given back to the game she loves, participating in AVCA and NCAA Committees. Additionally, she is a regular at the AVCA Convention to share her knowledge and continue her own growth as a volleyball coach and administrator. Over the years, it'd be impossible to count the number of coaches she has touched in her journey on a regional and national level.
Hoffman has been front and center in developing volleyball across New England. She started the New England All-Star Volleyball Camps, which is the first and largest volleyball camp in the region. After 20 years of running the camps, they continue to sell out by drawing close to 500 players each year.
Even faced with adversity, the New York native never stopped coaching. While dealing with health issues during the 2013 season, she continued to coach and be an inspiration to her players en route to her NE-10 Coach of the Year honor.
"Sandy and her teams have exemplified graciousness in defeat and humility in victory time and time again," said Smith College Head Volleyball Coach Fran Vandermeer. "She is the ultimate professional and she has created a culture in her program of healthy competition with an emphasis on respect for teammates, coaches, opponents and officials. She should be proud of her quantitative successes, but she should be equally proud of her reputation in the volleyball community."
Ruth Nelson epitomizes what it means to be an AVCA Hall of Famer from her time as a player, coach, marketer and fundraiser across the professional, collegiate and youth ranks. A former player on the U.S. National Team in the 1970's, she went on to enter the coaching ranks, but continued to evolve into so much more.
Her first coaching position was at George Williams College from 1970-1972 before rising to national prominence as the University of Houston Head Coach. There, she led the Cougars to a 290-84 record and had the honor of coaching the late Flo Hyman, Rose Magers, Sherryl Moore and Rita Crockett. In the collegiate ranks, she totaled 16 years coaching including stops at LSU and the University of Iowa, totaling over 500 wins. She also served as an assistant coach for the national team she once played for while also serving as head coach of the U.S. Junior National Team. However, what makes Nelson great is being more than just an elite collegiate coach.
She was also an expert marketer, serving as a Volleyball Director and Director of Sports & Corporate Marketing at the Special Olympics for 12 years. There she generated $3 million in sponsorships. She has continued to help organizations market and fundraise while helping young players realize their dreams of playing collegiate volleyball as an owner and CEO of several companies. Working extensively with players, their parents and coaches alike, she has shared her knowledge at AVCA Conventions and also serves as mentor in the AVCA mentoring program.
Nelson was inducted into the University of Northern Colorado Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013.
"Technically and tactically she is one of the smartest volleyball people that I have come across, and feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with such an amazing person," said Alabama State Assistant Coach Valerie Armstrong. "She has made such a positive impact on so many athletes, teams and coaches, and her contribution to the sport of volleyball is huge."
It is difficult to put into words the impact Sandy Vong has had on everyone around him. Anyone who comes in contact with him will say he's one of the kindest, caring and most humble men they've ever met. He is equally revered as being one of the top volleyball minds and instrumental in fostering a strong relationship between American and Chinese volleyball teams.
As the first ever coach of the University of Michigan volleyball team in 1973, Vong coached while maintaining his full-time position as an engineer for the Ford Motor Company. His technical prowess is second-to-none, engineering multiple volleyball products including the portable electronic scoreboard called the eSCORE. He ended up coaching the Wolverines for 11 seasons garnering 177 wins, and laying the foundation for the sport at the school.
Vong has been instrumental in fostering the relationship between United States and Chinese volleyball teams, organizing over twenty trips to China since 1979. He facilitated the USA Men's National Team's trip to China for their tour and competition. He later joined the women's side as a technical consultant from 1987-1996 spanning three Olympic Games. He also traveled with the USA Women's National Team on seven different trips to China, helping get the Chinese National Team to the United States on six different occasions. As the years progressed, Vong has taken numerous schools to China and was crucial in bringing the Jiangsu Volleyball Team from China to play Pac-12 schools in the 2012 AVCA College Volleyball Showcase.
In addition to his engineering and international travels, Vong is currently on the AVCA Board of Directors where he has served since 2006.
"Sandy is a true man of character," said current University of Michigan Head Coach Mark Rosen. "In my experiences with Sandy, he has always put the team ahead of himself and the sport ahead of everything. His guidance and vision for the AVCA has been impressive. He is an innovative thinker who is always looking for ways to improve our sport through technology and training methods. His inventive mind is always active and engaged on how we can make our game better and help our athletes improve."