MILLEDGEVILLE — Former Georgia College professor and coach Geza Martiny's influence spans multiple sports. The Hungarian native's 1964 Holy Names University women's volleyball team was recently elected to the Oakland, Calif. school's Athletic Hall of Fame.
While teaching physical education, exercise science and biomechanics classes at the then College of the Holy Names, Martiny noticed a large group of skilled ladies in volleyball class. The sport was popular at many state Catholic high schools at the time.
“They were already high-skilled players,” Martiny remembers. “I said why don't we start a team.”
After only a few months of practice, the Holy Names squad dominated its first match over an Oakland rival.
Female athletes only option was intercollegiate invitational volleyball tournaments. The Holy Names team defeated all comers from the United States Volleyball Association Region 12, which included California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada.
Major programs at San Jose State and Stanford University couldn't compete.
“We never lost anything,” Martiny said. “We won all of the time.”
Since the team beat all of the university opponents, team members earned the right to represent Region 12 at the 1964 U.S. Olympic Tryout in New York City.
Holy Names organized a successful fundraiser that included some volleyball scrimmages against the Oakland Raiders professional football team to fund the 18-hour trip.
Martiny said the ladies performed well against more experienced adult women, just missing the semifinals. Two players were honorable mentions for the Olympic volleyball team.
“It was unusual that kids could compete against women,” the old coach said.
Martiny established a Canadian volleyball team after leaving Holy Names. He also served on the U.S. and Canadian Olympic committees.
The “Scientific Approach to International Volleyball” textbook was authored by the successful instructor and published by the Canadian Association.
Watching poor volleyball formation strategy spurred the book.