List of Inductees 2019
1984 Senior Men's
The fact that the 1984 Canadian Men’s National Team is making its way to the Volleyball Canada Hall of Fame is not surprising. After all, they’re the crew that came up with Canada’s best-ever finish at an Olympic Games, advancing to the bronze medal match in Los Angeles that summer.
Canada qualified for its first-ever Olympic tournament in 1976 as the host team. They finished at the bottom of their group in the group stage, losing in straight sets in every match, and ending up in 9th place overall. Following the Montreal Games, it was clear that in order for Canada to be competitive in the world, a new approach and new program was needed.
In November of 1977, Lorne Sawula, the Canadian Volleyball Association Technical Director at the time travelled to Japan with the intention of hiring a Japanese coach for the men’s fledgling program. Lorne approached the President of the Japanese Volleyball Association, Mr. Maeda to assist in selecting a coach. As it happens, it was his son Ken who was recruited to coach the Canadian squad and to build a program for Canada. Ken successfully assembled a group of young athletes and kept the nucleus of them together for a number of years. Ken would influence the style of volleyball in Canada for years to come.
The team’s first major accomplishment was winning bronze at the Pan-Am Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1979, the first international games medal for Canada. Other achievements included winning the Commonwealth Championship in England in 1981 and the silver medal at the 1983 World University Games in Edmonton, losing an exciting final match to Cuba in front of some 13,000 partisan fans. The Canadian Men qualified for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games by finishing as the runner-up at the 1983 NORCECA Championship behind the United States. Throughout the early months of 1984, they were beating teams that would go on to medal in Los Angeles.
This was clearly one of the best Canadian squads ever assembled, finishing with a record of 1 loss and 3 wins in their preliminary round at the Olympic Games, losing only to Italy (1-3) while defeating Egypt, China and Japan by scores of 3-0. They then met the USA in the semi-final losing 3-0 before facing the Italians in the hard-fought bronze medal match. They were unable to handle the Italians once again and finished the Games in 4th place, Canada’s best-ever Olympic result.
Ken Maeda and his staff instilled in the players the desire to win and the pride that comes from wearing Canada’s colours. He was supported by Bob Harrison as Assistant Coach, John Paulsen as the Program Director, Al Leong as the team manager, Rick Alderman, the team psychologist and Dr. Dave Smith, also known as Dr. Death, who developed an incredibly intense training regimen so that the team was amongst the fittest in the world.
This team changed the course of Volleyball in Canada. Not only did Ken instill in the players the desire to win, but other coaches with the program such as Brian Watson and Julien Boucher would develop their skills with the program and go on to coach the National Team. Many of the players on this team have had a significant influence and impact on the sport as highly successful coaches and leaders in the sport for the last 35 years. While they ended up just missing the podium all those decades ago, they remain the standard for the men’s national team program to this day.
The following athletes were members of the 1984 Canadian Olympic Volleyball team:
Their performance was legendary, if not iconic. This is the team that has driven the hope for Team Canada volleyball for a very long time. It is our honour to welcome the 1984 Canadian Men’s Olympic Team into the Volleyball Canada Hall of Fame in recognition of their stellar performance at the Los Angeles Olympic Games.