In a Class of Their Own

Uvaldo Acosta

The Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) is in its 40th year as the leading men’s volleyball conference in the east. Founded as the Eastern Collegiate Volleyball League (ECVL) in 1971, the EIVA changed to its current name in 1985. To celebrate its long history, the EIVA announced their inaugural Hall of Fame class to recognize six individuals with a long-standing history of creating, maintaining, and supporting the growth and excellence of volleyball in the east: the late Uvaldo Acosta (George Mason), the late Tom Hay (Springfield College), Ivan Marquez (Concordia [NY]), the late Bill Odeneal (SUNY New Paltz), Bob Sweeney (East Stroudsburg), and Tom Tait (Penn State).

“The EIVA executive committee realized that recognition for individuals who made major contributions to the success of our league was long overdue,” said Ron Shayka, EIVA President and Associate Athletic Director at George Mason. “The contributions of our inaugural Hall of Fame class span from the earliest efforts to establish collegiate programs and the league itself, to more recent coaching and administrative leadership. The inaugural class represents six individuals who have certainly helped impact where our league and sport are today.”

Uvaldo Acosta

The late Uvaldo Acosta was a former men’s volleyball player and coach at George Mason University. He was a USA Volleyball National team member (1989-92) and was named an alternate to the 1992 Olympic team that competed in Barcelona. He earned a World Cup bronze medal with the team in 1992 and was named the best defensive player at the tournament. He was a three-time All-American for the Patriots from 1986-88 and was in his second year as the George Mason head coach when he drowned during a team outing in Hawaii in 1998. The EIVA Player of the Year award is named after Acosta and each year George Mason holds the Uvaldo Acosta Memorial Scholarship match to honor their alumnus and coach.

Tom Hay

The late Tom Hay joined the Springfield College staff in 1966, where he coached both the men’s and women’s volleyball team for 22 years with an overall record of 675-286-20 for an impressive 69.8 winning percentage. His men’s squad represented the East in the 1971 NCAA Men’s Championship at UCLA and in 1976 Springfield placed fourth at the NCAA Division II Regional Tournament. In 1987 Hay received the EIVA Coach Emeritus Award for his “lifetime commitment to the sport of volleyball” and he was inducted posthumously into the Springfield College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007. He was also inducted into the YMCA Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2008 in an event that highlighted significant contributions individuals made to the development of volleyball in the YMCA, a place where Hay learned his volleyball skills through coaching and playing after college.

Ivan Marquez

Named the first Executive Director of the EIVA in 2003, Ivan Marquez has been involved in the EIVA’s administration since 1996 and has been instrumental in its development and advancement. Previously the head men’s volleyball coach and now current Athletic Director at Concordia (NY) College, Marquez led a fledgling program to the elite of the EIVA and national recognition prior to its discontinuation after the 2003 season. A native of Condado, Puerto Rico, and graduate of SUNY-Brockport, Marquez also previously held a graduate assistant position with the Southern California women’s volleyball team prior
to his involvement with Concordia.

Bill Odeneal

A pioneer in the development of intercollegiate volleyball, the late Bill Odeneal led the 1985 SUNY New Paltz team to a 34-2 record that culminated in an ECVL Championship. He is the winningest coach in SUNY New Paltz history with 204 victories from 1967-87. In 1949, Odeneal became the nation’s first full-time college volleyball coach at Florida State. He co-authored the book “Beginning Volleyball” in 1962 along with several other articles and books, served on many national athletic bodies and was a charter member of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament Committee. He was inducted into the Florida State Hall of Fame in 1985 after having won three national titles in the 1960s.

Bob Sweeney

During his time at East Stroudsburg, Bob Sweeney posted a 381-224 record on the men’s volleyball side before retiring in 1994; he also earned a 383-199 career mark on the women’s side. Sweeney acted as both the president and the treasurer of the EIVA and was a key factor in the expansion of men’s volleyball on the east coast, modifying the league structure to help both varsity and club teams develop and support volleyball at their respective institutions. Also active on the national volleyball scene, Sweeney served on several men’s and women’s NCAA volleyball, USA Volleyball and AVCA committees. He received the EIVA Leadership and Service Award in 1994, was inducted into the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1995, the East Stroudsburg University Hall of Fame in 1996 and the AVCA Hall of Fame in 2005. The EIVA Coach of the Year Award is also named after Sweeney.

Tom Tait

Tom Tait is considered the father of the Penn State men’s and women’s volleyball programs. After leading one of the best men’s club teams in the nation, he turned the Nittany Lions to Division I status in 1977, also acting as the first women’s head coach from 1976-78. He led the Nittany Lions to four NCAA Championships and coached 20 All-Americans during his tenure. He is a five-time Eastern Collegiate Coach of the Year and earned Coach Emeritus status from the EIVA in 1990. Tait still maintains ties with the Penn State programs and also travels around the country as a top cadre (instructor) with USA Volleyball’s Coaching Accreditation Program (CAP) among other involvement with the USA Volleyball programs. He was recognized by USA Volleyball as an All-Time Great Coach in the Pioneer Division in 2007 and was inducted into the AVCA Hall of Fame in 2003, also receiving the AVCA Founders Award in 1999.

EIVA Schools

• George Mason
• Harvard
• Penn State
• Princeton
• Rutgers
• Sacred Heart
• Saint Francis

Originally published in May 2012


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