Latrobe Valley Volleyball Inc.

Morwell, Moe, Churchill
Established in 1966


Celebrating 40 Years of Country Championship Volleyball Competition in the Latrobe Valley – June 2010

A Brief History and Genesis of Volleyball in the Latrobe Valley Region from 1966 and the 1970s. compiled by Bob Kenter.

Volleyball in the Latrobe Valley commenced in Morwell as an ‘Experimental Competition’ on Wednesday 20th April 1966 and comprised six (6) local teams consisting of one men’s team called “YMCA” from Morwell, one Moe “Saints” team, two “ESD” teams (Electricity Supply Division – SECV) and two more teams from Moe, called “Rebels” 1 & 2.

A Round Robin competition was played in this competition where each team played each other once and the team on top at the end of Round 5 was declared the winner.

This first ‘trial’ competition was played on the one-basketball-court, of the former Morwell YMCA Hall, since demolished, playing three games each Wednesday night. However, from May 1966 onwards, and due to the phenomenally rapid growth and interest of this ‘new’ sport, the Moe (high-roofed) YMCA Hall venue was included as well.

There were to follow two more volleyball competitions in 1966 after this initial experimental one, completing a total of three separate competitions in that first year!

The Premier team of that first experimental competition was the Moe-Rebels 1 team captained and coached by a Czech migrant and Moe High School teacher, Mirek Volny. His team consisted mainly of Moe High School teachers.

The Official Starting Date of the LV-YMCA-VA Competition was Wednesday 25th May 1966, with a total of 12 teams participating.  The Latrobe Valley YMCA Volleyball Association grew from the initiative of a few keen volleyball enthusiasts.  It appears that Mirek Volny (Moe) and John Mitchell (Morwell YMCA Secretary), played key roles in getting volleyball going back in early 1966, according to pioneer player and Morwell resident, Stan Brown.

Other pioneering names sometimes featured in LV Express articles from that era, up to 1970, and most of whom have remained in the region, include entities like Bob and Jim Henderson, Arthur Nicholas, Jack Wilkinson, Bud Walker, Ian McCutcheon, John and Robert (Bob) Kenter, Ken Findlay, Mike Gregson, Ian Williams, Neil Alexander, Russell King, Dick Donchi, Malcolm Darby, Max Payne, John McDonnell, Steve Szabo, Peter Osuch, Peter Forbes, Peter Box, Kevin Hall to name a few, from that period. Several of these players have now passed on, while a few others have moved out of the area.

Not too many women players/teams emerged during the 1966/1967 years. But from 1968 onwards, names like Joan Goodwill, Karen Brown, Beth Campbell and Nanette Stanbridge appeared as some of the early women mentioned playing or involved with, volleyball in Moe or Morwell.

Some early contacts of LV Volleyball players with other volleyball teams and Associations in Country Victoria and also Metro teams, up to 1970 included: Warrnambool, Bendigo and Geelong whilst some of the invited Metropolitan teams included: Wallabies (Men), Victorian U18 (Men), Renegades (Men) and Sisu (Men and Women).

A Volleyball feature in those formative years included regular Round Robin (RR) matches - in between the two Winter and Spring competitions and/or during school holidays - to get new teams and players ready and organized for the new season to follow. Early organizers and managers of these RRs included Stan Brown, Russell King and Bob Henderson.

The first-ever general or friendly “invitation” for a “YMCA” volleyball tournament came from the Warrnambool Volleyball Association in March of 1968, one in which the LV Committee duly accepted and committed sending, a Men’s team.

Three players consisting of coach Wal Aboltins, Mirek Volny and Mike Gregson, were nominated as the LV Men’s Team Selection Committee. There were only two players we know of, who definitely represented LV in Warrnambool in 1968 they were Bob Henderson and Mike Gregson. According to octogenarian Bob Henderson, both Mike and Bob were thrilled to find a Caravan Park in Warrnambool that catered for dogs, as both players and their families were keen to take their dogs with them.

Other players still around and living in the LV area, who may have represented LV back then, in 1968, are a bit hazy in their memory, but take your pick from that list above, as it is known that we definitely managed ‘to scrape a side together’ to represent the ‘Latrobe Valley’ in country volleyball.

Next, in 1969, the Bendigo YMCA Volleyball Association invited YMCA-affiliated teams from all over Victoria in the 2nd YMCA Championships. It is known from an article in the LV Express in 1976, that local volleyball entity, Bob Kenter definitely participated in this All-YMCA-Victorian Volleyball tournament - no other record is available of the names of any other players who would have participated in Bendigo in 1969.

Then in the following year, on the 17-18th Oct 1970, again in Bendigo, the All Victorian Volleyball Championships were held, which included men and women country teams from Bendigo, Warrnambool, Geelong and a men’s only team from the Latrobe Valley. The LV men’s team defeated Warrnambool 2 sets to nil, but we were defeated in two sets to nil by both Geelong and Bendigo. The first Volleyball Country Champions in 1970 were Geelong, in both the men’s and women’s competition. There is no definitive record of the names of any LV players who actually took part in that first Volleyball Country Championships in Bendigo in 1970.

The LV-YMCA-VA (later LVVA, now LVVI) Committee in 1970 consisted of President Bob Henderson, Vice-President: Malcolm Darby, Treasurer - Stan Brown, Secretary - Max Payne, Referees’ Adviser - Bud Walker and general members Ms Karen Brown, Ms Beth Campbell, Gary Hoffard, Bob Kenter and F. Brown.

Both the LV men and women’s representative teams won their first ever Country Championship in June of 1979 at Shepparton against Ballarat, Bendigo, Wangaratta, Geelong, Warrnambool and Goulburn Valley teams. Both LV teams defeated rivals Bendigo in the Grand Final. The LV Under 17 Girls Volleyball Team were also winners for the first time, at a Country Championships in Geelong in 1977.

Bendigo is staging the 40th Victorian Country Volleyball Championships on the Queens Birthday Weekend 2009.

Players who took part and or have some proof of playing in that first Country Championship can help update our records by advising, LVVI Secretary - Howard Williams on Ph 5134 2641

Also, any past players who took part in the first Country Championship in Bendigo in 1970 may like to contact Bob Kenter on 5127 3616. The Bendigo Volleyball Organizing Committee is keen to acknowledge these early pioneers, as well as invite these players to a lunch at the Schweppes Sporting Complex in Bendigo on Monday, 8th June 2009. Compiled by Bob Kenter April 2009.

Latrobe Valley Past Representative Players: (A work in progress, please advise of any errors/omissions & see the honor roll page)

Australia: Bob Kenter, Ted Kalkhoven, Shaun O'Neill, Helen Kalkhoven, Nicky Kalkhoven, Phoebe Trembath

Victoria: Bob Kenter, Ted Kalkhoven, Shaun O'Neil, Helen Kalkhoven, Nicky Kalkhoven, Susan Lloyd, Liz Davis, Danny Anderson, many more on honor roll page