It’s induction week on the Worldwide Volleyball Corridor of Fame in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The ceremony is Saturday. Six inductees will be part of the earlier 161 gamers, coaches, directors and leaders from 25 international locations who’ve already been enshrined within the museum on the birthplace of volleyball. We’ve got tales on all six, persevering with with Yumilka Ruiz of Cuba:
You possibly can argue that the Cuban nationwide girls’s volleyball crew within the Nineties and early 2000s was the best dynasty within the sport’s historical past.
Think about that the “Caribbean Ladies” (Las Morenas del Caribe) received Olympic gold medals in three consecutive Video games, which has by no means occurred earlier than or since. They added a bronze in 2004 for good measure and likewise received World Championships in 1994 and 1998.
A whopping 5 members of these dominant Cuban groups are already within the Worldwide Volleyball Corridor of Fame, together with their coach Eugenio George.
A sixth might be added on October 21 when Yumilka Ruiz joins her teammates in volleyball immortality.
“For my nation, (the Corridor honor) has an amazing that means,” Ruiz stated. “Cuba has six gamers, together with me, and the perfect coach on the planet exalted to this recognition, which is the utmost that an athlete on the planet can aspire to.
‘I feel there are NO phrases to explain the happiness and satisfaction that’s felt.”
Ruiz, at simply 5-foot-10 (1.79m), was an out of doors hitter who received gold within the 1996 Atlanta Video games and once more in 2000 in Sydney. Ruiz was the captain of the 2004 crew that received bronze and her Olympic profession resulted in 2008 when the Cubans completed fourth.
“I had the chance to belong to 2 generations of various gamers,” Ruiz stated. “I performed on the nationwide crew from 1993 till 2000 with these athletes who managed to win three Olympic gold medals in a row.
“It was an exquisite expertise.
“Then a brand new technology arrived nearly in every single place. In its entirety, I turned captain of that crew, wherein I needed to at all times be within the lead in all of the preparations to get them to comply with me. Each had been great groups, (however) in a single I had a higher function than within the different.”
These Cuban groups had been characterised by gamers like Ruiz, who might seemingly bounce out of the fitness center, had been extraordinarily fast and will hit the ball as laborious as may very well be imagined.
However to concentrate on Ruiz’s accomplishments solely with the Cuban nationwide crew could be to shortchange her legacy.
Ruiz was an excellent membership participant in Cuba, Italy and Russia. She performed for Reggio Calabria in Italy from 1996-2000 and the Russian membership Uralochka-NTMK in 2004-05 and 2012-14. She helped Reggio Calabria end second on the Italian Championships in 1999 and 2000, and in 2000 received the Italian Cup, the Italian Tremendous Cup, and the CEV Cup. In 2005 she led Uralochka-NTMK to the Russian Tremendous League title.
Ruiz was born in Camaguey, within the inside of the island 45 years in the past. Cuba’s third largest metropolis has an attention-grabbing historical past, in that it was moved to its current inland location 13 years after it was based on the northern coast in 1515. This transfer was because of relentless assaults from Caribbean pirates.
At simply the age of 8, Ruiz picked up a volleyball and was instantly hooked.
“The one who had the best affect on me was my mom, who cherished to play, plus my household may be very ‘sporty’ so that they inspired us to play sports activities.”
Ruiz from a younger age exhibited the traits that typified a lot of the high Cuban gamers of her period, nice leaping capability, and, as she put it, “pace in actions.”
Her idols rising up included Josefina Capote, Mercedes Perez, Mercedes Pomares and future teammate and IVHF fellow Corridor of Famer Mireya Luis, as a result of nearly all of them performed outdoors hitter like Ruiz.
Ruiz was solely 18 when she made the nationwide crew that headed to Atlanta and received the second of these three gold medals.
“I actually realized that I may very well be on the degree of any athlete (on the planet) who performed the identical place as I did, after making the common crew of the Cuban nationwide crew.”
From day one Ruiz was consistently beneath stress to fend off fellow hungry “Caribbean Ladies,” to maintain her slot on the nationwide crew.
“My hardest particular person opponents had been all of the gamers that performed the identical place out and in of Cuba,” Ruiz associated.
Though at all times laser targeted on total crew aims, Ruiz was nonetheless acknowledged for her achievements as a terminal participant. She was named most respected participant on the 2002 Pan-American Cup, the 2003 NORCECA Championship, and within the 2004/05 Russian Tremendous League. She was named greatest spiker on the 2004 FIVB World Grand Prix and the 2005 Pan American Cup, and greatest scorer on the 2002 World Championships.
Her enjoying accomplishments had been extraordinary, however the management qualities she exhibited as captain of the nationwide crew, little doubt caught the attention of influential members of the Worldwide Olympic Committee, and in 2008, Ruíz was elected as an athlete member of the IOC, serving from 2008-16. She was additionally named to the IOC Sport and Energetic Society Fee.
“Being a member of the Worldwide Olympic Committee was an exquisite expertise,” Ruiz stated. “It taught me to see sport from one other viewpoint, and with a unique perspective. We athletes will not be conscious of all of the work that’s being accomplished behind us to hold out the Olympic, World, Pan American, and Central American Video games that enable us, in a secure wholesome and respectful atmosphere to share, socialize, study cultures, types of life, new athletes and thus creating new friendships.”
The Caribbean Ladies introduced worldwide consideration to Cuba in that golden decade from 1990-2000, and to their credit score they’ve been rewarded by the Corridor for the collective and particular person excellence.
Yamilka Ruiz has exhibited each, and a contact of sophistication as nicely.
“I nonetheless can’t consider it, it’s unimaginable for me,” Ruiz exclaimed. “I by no means performed for recognition. I at all times did it to have enjoyable, take pleasure in, and win. It’s an award that many individuals on the planet say, ‘it’s nicely deserved.’ I feel so as a result of I’m representing my different colleagues that collectively we received every part! I’m completely happy.
“Thank the world for selecting me!”
Search for extra tales this week on Olympic gold medalist and four-time Olympian Phil Dalhausser (United States, seashore male participant); two-time Olympic medalist and five-time FIVB World Tour Champion Larissa França Maestrini (Brazil, seashore feminine participant); and longtime administrator inside varied nationwide and worldwide federations and the primary member to symbolize Thailand within the IVHF, Shanrit Wongprasert (Thailand, chief).
Click here for ticket information and in the event you received’t be on the ceremonies they’ll be streamed at IVHF.org