Morgan Classic brings top teams to Valley
By Katelyn Gendron
Reminder Assistant Editor
HOLYOKE What began as a an idea to bring the nation's best teams to one arena has spawned into the Volleyball Hall of Fame's Morgan Classic the premiere men's volleyball tournament in the northeast, according to participants.
The Hall will host the 22nd annual Morgan Classic Feb. 13-14 in conjunction with five-time Division III Men's Volleyball National Champions Springfield College. This year, the field will include the University of California San Diego, George Mason University of Virginia, St. Francis University of Pennsylvania and Springfield College.
"Volleyball has been growing by leaps and bounds at all levels [of play since the beginning of the Classic]," former Springfield College Men's Volleyball Coach and honorary member of the Volleyball Hall of Fame Board of Directors Joel Dearing, said. "Those of us in the sport just wanted to see the game grow. It's exciting to see the explosion of volleyball in Western Massachusetts."
Springfield College Men's Volleyball Coach Charlie Sullivan said this tournament provides his players with the annual opportunity to "test their abilities [against] some of the best teams in the country."
"We're the only Division III school in the nation that can say that we have Division I teams play on our court," he said.
Craig Poisson, senior associate director of athletics at Springfield College, explained that he works with the Hall to recruit teams of the highest caliber for the Morgan Classic.
"We try to bring in at least one program from the west coast, historically where volleyball is seen as more preeminent," he said.
Poisson added that the players and coaches clinic on Feb. 14 is also a large draw for those in the northeast. Clinics are from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at a cost of $60. Clinic registration includes one ticket to the matches on Feb. 14.
Jerry Fitzsimons, executive director of the Volleyball Hall of Fame, noted that this event provides approximately $8,000 for the hall for operation expenses.
"This has been a tradition that provides funds for the Hall of Fame and an opportunity for us to showcase some quality collegiate volleyball," he said.
Matches at the Blake Arena include UC San Diego against St. Francis on Feb. 13 at 6 p.m., followed by Springfield College versus George Mason at 8 p.m. The consolation and championship matches will take place on Feb. 14 at 6 and 8 p.m.
Tickets ate $6 for adults and $4 for children and students.
For more information about the Morgan Classic visit www.volleyhall.org.