LIKE a phoenix from the ashes.
That’s the best way of introducing Boathouse Volleyball Club from Dewsbury.
The club was born in 1988 when local league club Phoenix became defunct – with several seasoned players looking to take their volleyball to a higher level.
And so a new club emerged.
It called itself Boathouse Volleyball Club on account of its main sponsor – the Boathouse Restaurant at Bradford Road between Batley and Birstall.
This eatery closed down in 1995 – but the volleyball club decided to remain as Boathouse.
Ex-Phoenix members were not the only ones to join up.
The new club also picked up players from Wakefield Volleyball Club – which was also in the process of disbanding – and Caravan Volleyball Club – a wandering group of caravan and volleyball enthusiasts.
In time, Boathouse came to base themselves at Birkdale High School in Dewsbury.
Club secretary Mike Turner, 43, said: “Anybody and everybody is welcome at Boathouse.
“We have teams to suit players young and old, inexperienced and experienced, male and female.
“The main club training night is Wednesday and home matches are played on Sunday evenings.
“The club welcomes players at any level.”
Mr Turner is one of the driving forces behind the club.
He joined in 1990 after playing volleyball at university.
A Londoner by birth, he now lives in York where he is a software engineer.
But he does the regular commute to Dewsbury for matches and training.
“There aren’t that many other clubs around, so a lot of us – not just me – travel in to the club.
“We’ve also got playing members who live in Huddersfield, Halifax, Hebden Bridge and Wakefield.”
Most sports lovers will know volleyball as an Olympic team sport in which two teams of six players, separated by a high net, try to score points by grounding the ball on the other team’s side of the net – after having set themselves up a decisive ‘spike’.
The main skills in the sport include techniques of passing, blocking, setting and spiking.
Volleyball was originally called mintonette – a kind of tennis-handball hybrid.
This early form of the game was devised by a YMCA PE teacher called William G Morgan.
He lived in Massachusetts, USA, and saw mintonette as a more skilful and refined version of basketball.
Because there was so much ‘volleying’ in the new game, it quickly came to be known as volley ball – and later volleyball.
In due course America became evangelical about the game.
For example, in 1919 American Expeditionary Forces distributed 16,000 volleyballs to their troops and allies in an attempt to spread the game outside the USA.
The first country to really embrace volleyball was Canada at the start of the twentieth century.
Thereafter there were a number of key dates: 1947 – the birth of the International Volleyball Federation; 1949 – the first world championships for men (women got theirs in 1952); and 1964 – the introduction of volleyball into the Olympics.
The sport is now played across the globe – especially in the USA, Brazil, Europe and Australasia.
The capital of British volleyball is Sheffield, where a Dutch and a Canadian coach oversee the fortunes of the men’s and women’s game at the English Institute of Sport.
And volleyball received a boost when the beach version of the game was added to the Olympic programme in 1996.
Volleyball is an exciting sport, but has never really broken into the mainstream.
Mr Turner has his theories as to why.
“Some people think it’s too complicated; others that it’s a game to play rather than watch.
“The main problem is that it’s not played enough in schools. But hopefully this is about to change.
“This year’s UK School Games were held in Coventry.
“The event usually restricts itself to individual sports, but this time volleyball was included – the first team sport to be featured.
“This has got to be good news for the future of the sport.”
Today the Boathouse club runs four teams in local, regional and national leagues.
They also have a women’s team in the Ladies Yorkshire Premier League.
Each player has a specific role, whether outside hitter, setter, middle hitter, middle blocker, outside spiker, short setter or opposite hitter.
The club is also committed to introducing volleyball to new players and usually enters a mixed team in a local league.
Their most famous son is Kieran O’Malley, who at the age of 19 became the first Boathouse player to play for the senior England team.
O’Malley is a former Brighouse High School and Brighouse College student and only started playing volleyball three years ago. But the sport is in his blood – as his father plays and coaches at the Boathouse club.
As the club states: “We are looking for keen, enthusiastic players to repeat Kieran’s success.
“If you want to play volleyball, at whatever level, contact us and come along to one of our training sessions.”