The Volleyball Australia Hall of Fame was introduced in 2012 during the Federation's 50th year, as a way to recognised those Athletes who have made an outstanding contribution to the sport of volleyball in Australia at the international and national levels.
Our first inductee was a pioneer of the game and made the 1st ever Australian representative side. He played in the Australian Volleyball Championships for South Australia and was very influential in South Australian volleyball and was selected in the ‘All Australian Team’ for many years. Although he played only three games for Australia it was during a time when international competition was limited and Australia, being geographically isolated and new to the sport had very few opportunities as a National Team.
Our second inductee is from the early era as well but clearly had additional opportunities to play internationally compared to Ozzie. She made the first ever Australian Representative side and then went on to play 79 games for Australia including two Asian Championships in 1975 and 1979 and a World Championship in 1982.
Our next indoor male inductee has quite an impressive resume. He played at the elite level from 1994 through 2008, amassed 328 for Australia including 144 of those as Captain of the Australian Men’s Team. He played in two Olympic Games – Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 as well as 3 x World Championships in 1998, 2002 and 2006. His playing prowess as a middle blocker won him many accolades and individual awards including being honoured as the best attacker at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Our next indoor female inductee is well known to the Australian volleyball community and although retired from her elite playing days is still very actively involved as a coach. Her career as an indoor player is what has earned her this Hall of Fame Honour but it goes without saying that she has succeeded at a high level in both indoor and beach. As an indoor player between 1987 and 1996 she represented Australia 104 times and played in three Asian Championships as well as the 1994 World Grand Prix Invitational. On the beach she played in 31 FIVB World Tour Events between 1997 and 2000 as well as representing Australia at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
Our inaugural male beach inductee excelled on the beach for nearly 20 years. Domestically he was crowned Australian Beach Champion 14 times in the period between 1989 and 2007. Internationally he played 145 FIVB World Tour matches winning 8 bronze and 1 gold medal in the process. He proudly represented Australia in three Olympic Games 1996, 2000 and 2004 with his best result a 4th place with his partner Mark Williams in Athens, 1996.
Our inaugural female beach inductee also played both disciplines but it was on the beach that she excelled. Over a 13 year period she won 8 Australian Beach titles and played in 92 FIVB World Tour Events amassing a total of 20 medals – 10 Bronze, 8 Silver and 2 Gold. She represented Australia at three consecutive Olympic Games in 1996, 2000 and 2004. Winning a bronze medal in 1996 only made her hungrier for further success which culminated in her most significant volleyball achievement - one that we will all remember – when she and her partner Natalie Cook took the gold medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. No doubt it was this latter achievement that also helped her gain recognition as the FIVB International Team of the Decade 1990-2000.
George was a founding member of our Men’s Volleyball Team, having played every match from 1971 to 1979. In total George played 49 games for Australia, captaining 20 of those including the first ever Asian Volleyball Championships in Melbourne 1975 and the second Asian Volleyball Championships in Bahrain 1979. He competed in the first 2 Oceania Championships in 1973 and 1976, and was part of the first touring group into China in 1975.
George was also a dedicated Victoria State team member that dominated the National Championships during the 70’s, where the men’s team won a consecutive 8 National Titles from 1972-1979, an achievement that has never been beaten at the senior men’s level.
George has been recognised for his contribution to the sport of volleyball in the past, not only as a player, but also a coach and administrator being award a Volleyball Australia Merit Award, a VA Distinguished Service award, a VA and Volleyball Victoria Life Membership, as well as being selected into the Men’s Indoor team of the Half Century in 2012.
Like our Male Indoor player being inducted this year, our Female Indoor Player Sue Dansie also made her National Team debut in 1971, playing in a total of 44 matches from 1971 to 1982. Her competition highlights included the 1973 and 1976 Oceania Championships, the 1975 and 1979 Asian Championships, and to cap it all off, Sue was part of the first Senior Women’s team to compete at an FIVB World Championships in 1982 in Peru.
Sue was also part of a dominating South Australian Women’s Team in the 1970’s and 80’s, that held an 11 year winning streak from 1971-1982 at the Senior National Championships. Her involvement with the SA women’s program is legendary, either as a player, a coach or a mentor, and the main reason for their domination of the Senior National Titles over the years, where the women’s team went on to win a staggering 23 Gold Medals out of a total of 28 from 1965-1998. The team were only out of the medals on one occasion, placing 4th and only missed 1 tournament altogether.
Our male beach inductee is one half of our Men’s Beach Team of the Century, with his partner having been inducted last year. Before he took to the sand Lee Zahner represented Australia in indoor volleyball at the national junior and Australian university levels. But it was on the beach that he found his greatest success.
The Queenslander teamed up with Julien Prosser in 1995 and the pair went on to be Australia’s most success team on the World Tour. Lee participated in both the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and 2000 Sydney Olympics, he won 6 Bronze Medals on the World Tour from 1996-2000, capping it off with a Gold Medal in 2001 at the German Open, our only Men’s Gold Medal on the beach. In total, Lee played in 87 world Tour events during his career from 1995-2002.
He also dominated the National Tour during this time, with his partner Julien. With over 20 Tour wins and 6 National Championship titles, it seemed that with every event he played, he was always on the winner’s podium.
A worthy recipient and pioneer of women’s beach volleyball in Australia, Anita also started her volleyball career on the indoor floorboards, representing Queensland in junior and senior teams, as well as Australia at the junior and senior level, where she played 28 games for the Senior Indoor team before making the move to the beach.
Making her mark on the World Tour in 1992, Anita played in 25 events up to 1996, finishing off her international career by representing Australia at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. Closer to home Anita enjoyed many successes on the Asian Tour Circuit and she too dominated the National Tour on home soil, winning 6 National Beach Volleyball Championships, and countless rounds of the National Tour from 1992-1996.