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.
“When I came, volleyball was not on the level of what it is today in the U.S. They were playing so technically poor,” Martiny said. “They were a non-power in volleyball.”
Using sports knowledge gained from a Hungarian upbringing, the teacher organized Canada's first intercollegiate gymnastics and fencing competitions as well.
Martiny arrived at Georgia College in 1973 and just recently retired in January 2008. He helped the gymnastics team ascend, while bringing the AIAW Small College National Women's Gymnastics Championship competition to Baldwin County's recreation center in 1980. ESPN televised the event.
The college's gymnastics team won back-to-back NAIA National Championships in 1981 to 1982. Several Colonial gymnasts garnered All-American accolades among national team and individual championships.
At GC, he added a national bowling coaching certification to the resume.
The college's bowling club started in 1994 and qualified for Nationals in Omaha, Neb. at one point.
The club competed tit for tat with larger teams featuring bowlers on scholarship.
Martiny volunteered throughout all of his coaching decades. The teams spawned from his students.
“I always developed these teams from my classes,” Martiny said. “I tremendously enjoyed the association with my athletes. The students at Holy Names and Georgia College were excellent.”
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