“A very interesting game is indulged in during an intermission, which is taken for rest and amusement combined. It is basket ball. A small wire basket is fastened to the wall on either end, about twelve feet from the floor.”
“Sides are chosen and each attempt to land a small rubber ball in the goal of the other team. The tactics involved in football are used with the exception that there is no kicking of the ball or tackling of players.” (Hawaiian Star, December 3, 1896)
“In the winter of 1891, Luther Gulick, the head of the physical education department at the YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts, persuaded a young instructor named James Naismith to create an indoor game that could be played during the off-season.” (Basketball Hall of Fame)
Gulick’s first intention was to bring outdoor games indoors, namely, soccer and lacrosse. These games proved too physical and cumbersome. Gulick was born on December 4, 1865 at Honolulu, Hawai‘i, the fifth of seven children of Congregationalist missionaries, Luther Halsey Gulick and Louisa Lewis Gulick.
Four years later, in 1895, William G. Morgan, an instructor at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Holyoke, MA, decided to blend elements of basketball, baseball, tennis and handball to create a game for his classes of businessmen which demanded less physical contact than basketball. He created the game of Mintonette. The name later changed to Volleyball.
Per Morgan, the game was fit for the gymnasium or exercise hall. The play consisted of any number of players keeping a ball in motion from one side to the other over a net raised 6 feet 6 inches above the floor. (NCVA)
In 1900 Canada became the first country outside of the US to take up volleyball, followed by Cuba in 1906, Japan in 1908, China in 1911, France in 1915 (during World War I on the beaches of Normandy and Brittany).
Then, the game of volleyball went outside, on the beach at Waikiki. The true birth of beach volleyball most likely began in 1915 when the Outrigger Canoe Club (OCC) set up a court on Waikiki Beach. (Fédération Internationale de Volleyball)
Started by George David “Dad” Center as an activity to keep OCC members busy during times when there was a lack of surf, the sport has flourished. (OCC)
‘Dad’ went out and bought a couple of volleyballs and a volleyball net; then, he and OCCC other members temporarily put the net up, in the sandy beach area parallel to the tide line, between the surfboard lockers and the canoe shed. This is where the first recorded game of ‘Beach Volleyball’ took place.
After playing on this Waikiki Beach volleyball court, ‘Dad’ and his group decided that the area was not spacious enough so they relocated the court in front of the Clubs little commissary and the big lanai.
Past Club President Ronald Quay Smith said that when he first came to Hawaii in 1919 and played volleyball: “I met the ‘Outrigger boys’ who were the best volleyball players that I knew of at the time and it was something to go up against those fellows.”
“‘Dad’ Center was their captain and coach. Tom Singlehurst, Duke and Dave Kahanamoku along with some of the other boys could jump five or six feet, and we respected them very much.” (OCC)
The Club’s most famous member was Duke Kahanamoku. Duke is credited with introducing surfing to the world. Duke was also one of the best beach volleyball players at the Club.
Duke Kahanamoku is also credited, by some of California’s ‘Old-Timers’ at Santa Monica’s ‘Beach Club,’ for helping to refine the game of beach volleyball. In the 1930s, Duke came to the mainland to fill the position as Athletic Director at Santa Monica’s ‘Beach Club.’ (OCC)
It is said that Kahanamoku, because of his exceptional athleticism, was the first to make beach volleyball a rugged sports activity rather than a leisurely way to pass the time away on the beach. Duke would jump to unmatched levels and spike the ball down at extraordinary angles.
The Outrigger Canoe Club was founded in 1908 by a small group of Honolulu’s business and professional community. The Club’s original mission was to help perpetuate traditional Hawaiian sports.
The Club’s story mirrors that of Waikiki and Hawaii. The 1908 clubhouse was two grass houses purchased from a defunct zoo. The grass houses were moved to leased land, on the beach, next to a lagoon.
One (fronting the beach) was fitted out as a shed for canoes and surfboards. The other shed became the Club’s first bathhouse and dressing room. Both had spacious lanai. A sand floor pavilion was built a short time later and it became a popular gathering place for members.
A new clubhouse was eventually built in 1941 on the same grounds. Then in 1964, when the Waikiki lease was lost, the club moved to its present Diamond Head location. (OCC)