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IPFW volleyball coach Ball all laughs, gratefulness during Hall of Fame induction

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Friday, December 14, 2012 - 7:05 am

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Arnie Ball more than three hours after giving his acceptance speech to the volleyball coaches Hall of Fame was still being stopped by people wanting to congratulate him.

It had been a whirl-wind for Ball on Thursday afternoon. From the stream of people approaching Ball to giving an hour-long demonstration with four-time Olympian son, Lloy, on proper volleyball technique for hundreds of coaches, the longtime IPFW coach barely had time catch his breath.

"It's been crazy," Ball said. I'm ready to relax, take my tie off and have a beer."

So is the life a Hall of Famer.

After more than 500 career wins in 32 years of coaching the IPFW men's volleyball team, Ball was inducted into the American Volleyball Coaches Association on Thursday in Louisville, Ky.

Ball was his typical witty and passionate self during his five-minute acceptance speech at a luncheon to honor the four newest Hall of Fame inductees.

"And yes I am the father Lloy Ball," Ball, who is more than one-foot shorter than his son, said. "I promised my wife I would spare you the details on how that happened."

Ball spent the majority of speech thanking those who helped him become a successful coach, especially his wife Sandy and the rest of his family. The coach said his wife's support of him pursuing a volleyball career from the start of their relationship was one of the main reasons he became a successful coach.

"I said [to her I] want to get married but let me tell you something, volleyball will be as much a part of my life as you are," Ball said during his speech. "And she said let's get started."

Along with his family, Ball included in his acceptance speech the person who introduced him to the volleyball -- Fort Wayne native and former Ball State men's volleyball coach Don Shondell.

Ball arrived at Ball State in the 1960s having no experience playing volleyball. However, when Ball tried out for the Cardinals men's volleyball team the future Hall of Fame coach decided pick Ball to be a setter on the team.

"Shondell took a chance on me at Ball State University. I was a baseball player. I was a pretty good one until the ball was hit at me or I had to hit it," Ball said. "I found the sport for me [with volleyball]. As a player and a coach. As a teacher and as a speaker. ... I have had some wonderful experiences and met some wonderful people."

Among one of the first people Ball met through volleyball was Fort Wayne area native Mick Haley.

Haley was the starting setter for the Cardinals when Ball joined the team and would go on to coach the U.S. Women's National Team in the 2000 Olympics and is currently the head coach of the USC women's volleyball team. In attendance for ceremony, Ball's longtime friend said he was excited to see him recognized for his efforts to grow the sport.

"It's absolutely well deserved,” Haley said. “He's been a mover and shaker in volleyball. He has unbelievably built volleyball in the Midwest."

Ball after developing high school volleyball teams throughout Fort Wayne in the 1970s founded the IPFW men's volleyball team in 1981. As the only head coach in program history, he has led the Mastodons to six Final Four appearances and five conference tournament championships.

In addition, Ball in 2007 guided the Mastodons to the NCAA championship match and one-win away from the school's first NCAA championship in any sport. Ball that year also was named the National Coach of the Year by the AVCA and Volleyball Magazine.

Ball was one of four members in the AVCA Hall of Fame Class of 2012. Among the other new inductees included former Olympic coach and Washington coach Bill Neville and former San Diego State coach Rudy Suwara.

The IPFW coach said being able to join the AVCA Hall of Fame with individuals who he's known for decades added extra meaning to the ceremony.

"I'm very humbled and blessed to be inducted with those guys," Ball said.