Volleyball has been around since 1895, so chances are that you’ve probably at least heard of it, if not participated in the game yourself.
William G. Morgan is credited as the creator of volleyball. He was a YMCA director in Massachusetts and came up with the idea so that people who found basketball too strenuous could engage in a lighter exercise.
Two years before volleyball, the sport of Newcomb Ball was invented by a professor of physical education at Sophie Newcomb College in New Orleans named Clara Gregory Baer.
Evidence suggests that Newcomb Ball laid the framework for Morgan’s concept of volleyball. Baer developed Newcomb Ball as a way to provide physical activity for women who didn’t have much opportunity to play a sport.
She had a passion for exercise starting at a young age. As a sickly child, she was often encouraged to engage in “tomboyish activities” to gain strength and bolster her health. She came to love playing in the outdoors.
During college, she trained in physical education, and after graduating, she was hired as a physical education teacher at Newcomb. She also took the position of Women’s Gymnastics Director at the Southern Athletics Club while teaching at Newcomb.
In 1889, the club began allowing the female relatives of male members to use the gymnasium for a few hours per week. They decided to employ a female teacher to encourage the women to participate in forms of exercise, so that’s when Baer came onto the scene and helped to successfully increase involvement.
Within two years of being at Newcomb, Baer established the first physical education certification program in the South. She also created the first bachelor’s degree program for physical education. During the 1893-94 school year, she came up with Newcomb Ball.
She needed an alternative sport to help strengthen her students’ reflexes and hand-eye coordination while they waited for an order of basketball hoops to arrive.