by Joel Dearing
Women's & Men's Volleyball Coach Springfield College
USA Volleyball CAP Cadre Member.
William G. Morgan made an impact in the world of sports with his
origination of mintonette in 1895. Who made an impact on Morgan?
What if he had not enrolled at Mt.Hermon School and the
International YMCA Training School, now known as Springfield
As we celebrate the centennial of volleyball, much credit will be
given, and rightfully so, to the inventor of the game. Thanks to
historical information in the archives at the Volleyball Hall of
Fame, Northfield/Mt.Hermon School and Springfield College, we are
able to examine more carefully the chain of events that brought
Morgan to the Holyoke YMCA in 1895. Special attention needs to
be given to the period of his life from 1890-1897.
Morgan's family was quite large, and the children were expected
to provide for themselves as soon as possible. In a letter from
his Sunday school teacher it is stated that he was allowed to
leave home by his parents, and much has been made of the fact
that Morgan left home to work on c***boats all along the Hudson
River. However, he continued to consider further education.
William Morgan's application letter to Mt. Hermon mentions his
desire to pursue a career as a mechanical engineer, and, in fact,
a letter of support written by his Sunday school teacher
indicates that he was intent on later attending Cornell
University. Admission into Mt. Hermon was not easy, as it was a
school for underprivileged boys. William's family was in the
boat building business, and had some means to support his
schooling. Apparently his financial background delayed his
acceptance until an interesting chain of events led to his
November 6, 1890: Morgan's application letter to Mt. Hermon
states, "I would like to enter next February if possible, as soon
as you can make a place."
November 10, 1890: First letter from his Sunday School
teacher states, "I beg you to prayerfully consider his
November 14,1890: Support letter from his Pastor, "He is
December 31, 1890: Second letter from his Sunday School
teacher, "Pardon my troubling you again, but I wish to remind you
of William G. Morgan's application sent in 2 or 3 months ago, but
fear in the multitude of such letters mine is quite buried. I
simply wish today to ask attention to it - as his call is
critical. If Will is not accepted now, for term beginning in
February, there is great reason to fear he will never go to
school again. A thoroughly established Christian, inheriting
from his mother superior qualities of heart & mind, he is well
January 6, 1891: From William's father in response to his
acceptance, "In reply, I would say we will endeavor to meet the
requirements mentioned as our son as well as ourselves are quite
Officials at Mt. Hermon must have felt the impact of William's
Sunday school teacher and decided to accept this lad who was
"well worth polishing." Morgan enrolled in February of 1891.
We can assume that Morgan was industrious as the application for
Mt. Hermon states that "lazy boys are not desired."
He took on a rigorous course schedule, played football and joined
the quartet. (He later married their piano player). Because of
the school's affiliation with the YMCA, Morgan met James
Naismith, Springfield football player/ coach and inventor of
basketball. Naismith frequented the Mt.Hermon Campus, but they
also met on the football field in what would be part of another
interesting chain of events.
NAISMITH THE RECRUITER
October 21, 1892: "Naismith vs. Morgan" in football game.
Springfield Training School (16), Mt. Hermon (8).
October 25, 1892: Morgan leaves Mt. Hermon School.
Students at Mt. Hermon often stayed for only a few semesters,
and later, in the fall of 1892, Morgan was included "with"
Naismith in a picture of the International YMCA Training School
Football team. Morgan was reportedly a fine center, and it
appears that Naismith found a spot for him on Springfield's team.
Morgan's departure may not have been unusual, but it does appear
that he was sidetracked from his goal of becoming a mechanical
engineer, and, instead, influenced to consider YMCA work by
Morgan graduated from Springfield in 1894 and soon after became
the physical director at the Holyoke YMCA. He acted as director
from 1895-1897 just enough time to invent the game of mintonette,
and bring it back to the YMCA Training School for an exhibition a
The inventor of the game, which we all know evolved into
volleyball, did not return to his alma mater until 1938. During
this visit he was asked to give his view on the development of
the famous and competitive game. Morgan replied that he was
"content in the knowledge that his game brought a richer life to
millions of people throughout the world."
All historical information was found in the Volleyball Hall of
Fame archives at Northfield/Mt. Hermon School and Springfield
1870 Born in Lockport, NY.
1891 Entered Mount Hermon School.
1892 Enrolls in Intemational YMCA Training School.
1893 Marries Mary King Caldwell.
1894 Graduates, Becomes Physical Director of Auburn,
ME YMCA, Born: Daughter Lillian.
1895 Becomes Physical Director of Holyoke YMCA,
Invents Mintonette, Bom: Son George.
1896 Morgan & 9 other businessmen demonstrate
Mintonette at the Int'l YMCA Training School,
Name changes to Volley Ball.
1897 Leaves Holyoke becomes Salesman at General
Electric & Westinghouse in Lockport. First
Volleyball rules published.
1899 Born: Son, James.
1911 Born: Son, Richard.
1920 Becomes Inspector at Harrison Radiator Company
1938 Visits Springfield College for first time in 42 years.
1942 Died in Lockport.
1954 Inducted Posthumously by Helms Foundation.
1978 Inducted Posthumously into the Springfield College
Athletic Hall of Fame.
1985 Inducted Posthumously into The Volleyball Hall
1995 July 28-30, three day celebration planned in
Lockport, NY in Morgan's honor.
John Kessel USA Volleyball Director of Programs
FIVB Technical Commission Secretary
1 Olympic Plaza / Colorado Springs, CO 80909
FAX (719) 597-6307 Ph (719) 637-8300