William G. Morgan (1870 - 1942), who was born in the State of New York, has gone down in history as the inventor of the game of volleyball, to which he originally gave the name of "Mintonette".
He came to realise that he needed a certain type of competitive recreational game in order to vary his programme. Basketball, which sport was beginning to develop, seemed to suit young people, but it was necessary to find a less violent and less intense alternative for the older members.
At that time Morgan knew of no similar game to volleyball which could guide him; he developed it from his own sports training methods and his practical experience, the idea of a net seemed a good one. We raised it to a height of about 6 feet 6 inches (1m.98) from the ground, just above the head of an average man, We needed a ball, and among those we tried was a basketball bladder, but this was too light and too slow; we therefore tried the basketball itself, which was too big and too heavy".
In the end, Morgan asked the firm of A.G. Spalding & Bros. to make a ball, which they did at their factory, in Massachusetts. The result was quite satisfactory: the ball was leather-covered, with a rubber inner tube; its circumference was not less than 25 and not more than 27 inches (63.5 cm and 68.6 cm, respectively), and its weight not less than 9 and not more than 12 ounces (252 gr. and 336 gr. respectively).
Morgan asked two of his friends from Holyoke, Dr. Frank Wood and John Lynch, to draw up (based on his suggestions) the basic concepts of the game together with the first ten rules.
Early in 1896 a conference was organised at the YMCA College in Springfield, bringing together all the YMCA Directors of Physical Education who invited Morgan to make a demonstration of his game in the new college stadium. Morgan took two teams, each made up of five men (and some loyal fans) to Springfield, where the demonstration was made before the conference delegates in the East Gymnasium.
Morgan explained that the new game was designed gymnasia or exercise halls, but could also be played in open air. An unlimited number of players could participate - the object of the game being to keep the ball in movement over a high net, from one side to the other.
After seeing the demonstration, and hearing the explanation of Morgan, Professor Alfred T. Halstead called attention to the action, or the active phase, of the balls flight, and proposed that the name Mintonette be replaced by volleyball This name was accepted by Morgan and the conference. (It is interesting to note that the name has survived over the years, with one slight alteration.
Mr Morgan explained the rules an worked on them, then gave a hand-written copy to the conference of YMCA directors of physical education as a guide for the use and development of the game. A committee was appointed to study the rules and produce suggestions for the game's promotion and teaching.
A brief report on the new game an its rules was published in the July 1896 edition of Physical Education and the rules were included in the 1897 edition of the first official handbook of the North American YMCA Athletic League.
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