Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chapter V

Chapter V: USC Volleyball - The 1949/1950 Season
USC had a policy regarding its faculty that discouraged the practice of what is best referred to as "inbreeding." Simply stated it means that anyone who wanted to teach at USC must be hired from "outside" - some other university or college. In my case, I was taking post-graduate courses toward a doctorate at USC and teaching there at the same time. To get around this dilemma, an agreement was reached with Cal Tech to hire me in its Humanities Division as a Scientific German instructor for a few years until I had completed the requirements for my Ph.D. in German with an International Relations minor. Presumably I would then be employed as a regular faculty member in the German Department at USC. In the Fall of 1949 I began teaching at the prestigious California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California See Appendices D-4 & D-5.

Since my services as volleyball coach at USC were strictly voluntary, and because I continued to be a graduate student at USC, nothing changed in regard to the USC volleyball team. After surveying the sports situation at Cal Tech, I came to the conclusion that there was no reason why I couldn't form a team there, much the same way that had been accomplished at USC. The Athletic Department at Cal Tech gave me the green light to contact the student houses on campus See Appendices D-1 & D-2 to elicit interest in such an enterprise.

Having moved from Long Beach to Altadena near the Institute, I was now able to spend less time commuting to USC and Cal Tech. I felt that my new schedule would allow me to include coaching a Cal Tech team while continuing to do the same at USC. I arranged a limited schedule of matches for the Cal Tech team See Appendix D-3 that took into consideration the study habits of its highly-motivated student body. Cooperation by Cal Tech officials and the athletic department could not have been greater, for which I was extremely grateful. Naturally, the fact that I had an established track record of accomplishment at USC was key to being able to achieve that degree of concord at Cal Tech. Success breeds success.

Arrangements had been made during the prior year with Dr. Alex Aloia, Director of Recreational Activities at USC, to enable the College of Medical Evangelists to practice with the USC team in the gym See Appendix G-21 Pages. 1 & 2. That permission was renewed for the 1949-1950 volleyball season. I had never presumed to coach their players in any manner; however, there is no question that the Seventh Day Adventist team had profited from the unique advantage of being able to practice with and compete against a proven USC volleyball team on a regular basis. CME had entered the 1949 collegiate nationals in Los Angeles and played very well. In May 1950 these future medical doctors would make the trip to Knoxville, Tennessee in order to participate in the second outing for the collegiate nationals.

The cooperation of Dr. Aloia was outstanding considering the constraints under which he had to operate - particularly those of a financial nature. In those cases where he was unable to make direct requests on behalf of the volleyball team to USC officials, he created entrée for me to make them. In the latter case, he instructed me very carefully in the art of successfully persuading certain individuals by being aware of and factoring in their personalities and propensities. I can't thank him enough for going the extra mile for our team on those occasions when it was needed most.

The 1949-1950 volleyball season opened on November 26, 1949 with the Sixth Annual Fellowship Volleyball Tournament held in Long Beach. See Appendices E-1 & E-2 Three tournaments followed one another in quick succession during January 1950 at Santa Monica, Pasadena and Los Angeles. See Appendices E-3, E-4 & E-5 The latter was a Double A invitational tournament in which the USC team had earned the right to participate based on its performance in the prior tourneys. The Los Alamitos Naval Air Station volleyball team invited USC to play in an exhibition match on February 10, 1950 See Appendix E-6 as a public relations event prior to the State AAU Annual Tournament to be held at the base on March 12, 1950. USC was the defending champion of that tournament. See Appendix E-7 The March 12, 1950 event boasted a field of 12 teams, two of which were from USC, placing first and fourth. See Appendices E-8, E-9 & E-10 The highly successful inaugural 1948-1949 volleyball season at USC had attracted a large number of talented players in late 1949 and early 1950. The future for USC volleyball couldn't have looked any brighter.

Representatives from three generations of USC graduates, Emil Breitkreutz '06, Leonard Stallcup '28 and Hans Vogel '47, See Appendix F-1 were serendipitously thrown together in the Southland volleyball world to found the Southern California Collegiate Volleyball Association and sponsor the first annual Southern California Collegiate Volleyball Championship Tournament held on the Trojan campus See Appendix F-7 on April 22, 1950. See Appendix F-5 Through Emil Breitkreutz' association with the Helms Foundation, medals and a trophy for this event were funded by that philanthropic athletic organization. See Appendix F-6 & F-14 through F-18 Pages. 1 & 2.

Coincidentally, about that same time Lance Flanagan, UC Berkeley volleyball coach, was attempting to organize a state-wide intercollegiate volleyball tournament in Fresno on the same date as our event on April 22, 1950. See Appendix F-8 I wrote to Mr. Flanagan, suggesting we organize our respective regions before attempting a statewide event. I told him that Emil Breitkreutz was currently in San Francisco on AAU business and that he would be contacting him before he returned to Los Angeles. See Appendix F-9 Emil did have a meeting with Lance at which time he reiterated the comments and recommendations in my letter to Lance. Apparently, Lance received very few favorable responses to his self-funded letter to California institutions of higher learning in which he was soliciting participants in a statewide collegiate volleyball tournament. See Appendix F-10 I subsequently received a nice letter from him in which he repeated his complaint of no cooperation from Northern California colleges and universities in his endeavor to organize collegiate volleyball on a regional basis. See Appendix F-11 Pages. 1 & 2 He said he would work with us in order ultimately to achieve statewide collegiate volleyball.

The Southern California Collegiate Volleyball Tournament was held on April 22, 1950 See Appendix F-12 with USC fielding three teams which placed first, second and fourth. The always strong Long Beach City College team placed third, behind two of the three participating USC teams. See Appendix F-13 Unfortunately, this was the only year this event was held. Apparently, after I left teaching and coaching the following year, the USC team more or less disbanded and no one stepped in to fill the position of continuing the progress that had been made over the past two years.
Dr. Leonard Stallcup, subsequently abrogated his association with USVBA and SCCVBA. He chose instead to concentrate on his Jonathan Club volleyball team which included such former USC alumni as George Brandow '36, president of the Engineering Alumni Association and a board of director member of the General Alumni Association; Dr. Francis Conley '31, then president-elect of the General Alumni Association; and, Joe Holt '47, prominent member of the Trojan Club and future U.S. congressman See Appendix H-4. Leonard kindly asked me to become a member of the Jonathan Club and play for its volleyball team. I felt honored to be asked to join such a prestigious private club. I had to decline the offer, however, primarily on the basis that the distance we would have to travel from our residence in Orange County and the club facilities in Los Angeles and Santa Monica was so far that my family would be unable to justify a membership for the very few times we would take advantage of it.

After Emil Breitkreutz accepted his recognition from the Helms Foundation for his many contributions toward the furtherance of volleyball at the USVBA Region 13 Awards Banquet at Helms Hall on January 29, 1951, See Appendix G-18 he too dropped his interest in and affiliation with collegiate volleyball. It spelled the end of a brief, but glorious era of collegiate volleyball which might have continued on the same successful path with a little more foresight on the part of and cooperation from institutions of higher learning.