By Richard Campbell
I always associated volleyball with gym class or beaches, but then in my generation the following of this sport was not what it is today. The Mizuno Volleyball Festival truly demonstrated the national and international popularity of the sport, filling the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center this past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with hundreds of teams playing on court after court. Teams in twenty-five divisions of multiple age groups, battled it out. Add the coaches, trainers, officials and their fans- and the attendance totalled well over 4,000 people. The whistles were blowing all over the place as balls were being served, passed, spiked, thrown, set, lobbed, bonking off spectators, and skimming across the matted floors.
Besides tournament play there were clinics, some training equipment, and plenty of free stuff for the players. Teams sported funny names like Mass Mayhem, Maine Squeeze, Miami Hype, as well as standard locale names. Since the game was first played in Holyoke Massachusetts in 1895, it is entirely appropriate that the New England Regional Volleyball Association who hosted this event, should find itself here in Boston for one of the largest tournaments in the world. This is the only tournament in the country running Junior girls, Junior Boys and 15 courts of Adults under 1 roof. These athletes, young and younger alike, take the sport pretty seriously, and exhibited not only high levels of competitive play, but a genuine esprit de corps that would be the envy of professional teams. This was a free event for children, and not that pricey for adults, so bookmark the New England Regional Volleyball Association for the future!