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EIVA Hall of Fame Inductee: Dr. William T. Odeneal

EIVA Hall of Fame Inductee: Dr. William T. Odeneal

EIVA Hall of Fame Inductee: Dr. William T. Odeneal

1985: Dr. Odeneal & SUNY-New Paltz Team

1986: Dr. Odeneal & SUNY-New Paltz Team

In the weeks leading up to the EIVA Championship match, will feature each of the six inductees into the league’s inaugural Hall of Fame Class. The EIVA is in its 40th year as the leading men’s volleyball conference in the east after being founded as the Eastern Collegiate Volleyball League (ECVL) in 1971 and changing its name in 1985.

The late Dr. William T. Odeneal is considered a pioneer in the development of intercollegiate volleyball. In 1949 he became the nation’s first full-time volleyball coach at Florida State and his Seminole squads were the nation’s best in the 1950s, earning three National Championships. He then transitioned to SUNY New Paltz where he is still the winningest coach with 204 victories from 1967-87.

“Coach Odeneal had many qualities that made him an exceptional coach and person,” said Tony Bonilla, a former player who succeeded Odeneal at SUNY New Paltz and is now an assistant. “His easy going personality along with his deep knowledge of life made him an influential individual on and off the court. I remember his day to day interaction with people and how he fostered excellence. He empowered us and developed confidence.”

Odeneal not only shared his volleyball knowledge with his teams, but with the entire volleyball community. 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.

“I contribute a great deal of my personal success to his influential personality,” said Bonilla. “He served a father figure in many instances. His influence was so profound that he became my best man at my wedding. I approach life in many instances based on his philosophy.”

Odeneal led the 1985 SUNY New Paltz team to a 34-2 record that culminated in an ECVL Championship, and he was inducted into the Florida State Hall of Fame in 1985.

“Coach Odeneal had the ability to turn you on (on the court) in seconds and get the best out of you,” stated Bonilla. “After he retired from coaching volleyball at SUNY New Paltz, I was his successor for approximately eleven years. My coaching approach is reflective of his teaching. He always had everlasting quotes and messages that stuck with us.  ‘You gatta to wanna it’ - a simple quote as such that translated on the volleyball court and in life… ‘If you are going to do something worthwhile, do it with passion.’”

Story Courtesty of Jen Armson-Dyer, EIVA Communications Director

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