Spike in volleyball popularity
Volleyball was introduced to Jamaica in 1959 and within two years, the first local club, Rockets Volleyball Club, was formed.
Venus All Stars, Jamaica Defence Force, Vikings, Mico Old Students Association, Rocketts, Sunset, Cosmic and the University of the West Indies were formed since.
The formation of Rockets Volleyball Club paved the way for Jamaica’s participation in regional volleyball for men. And in 1964, the first organised female Jamaican volleyball team was formed.
In 1990, Jamaica’s men team participated in the CAC Games for the first time. The games were held in Mexico and Jamaica finished eighth and last. It was the first time Jamaica was competing against teams in the North, Central American and Caribbean region.
The following year, Jamaica’s male team was edged 2-1 by the visiting Suriname team in a three-match series.
The Caribbean Championship was introduced in 1991, which was hosted by Suriname. However, only the Netherlands Antilles went to Suriname.
In 1992, the Caribbean Championship was staged in Jamaica and involved five male and four female teams. Jamaica finished second in the men’s division and third in the female’s division.
The country achieved its best placing in 2004 when the Championship was hosted by Barbados. Jamaica finished second in both male and female division.
In 1997, the first Caribbean Junior Championships were staged in Barbados. Jamaica’s best placing came in the inaugural year. The male team finished second while the female-ended third.
The female juniors repeated their third place finish in the 2005 championship in Trinidad and Tobago. Jamaica was represented by only a female team that year.
The period of 1993 to 1994 saw Jamaica Amateur Volleyball Association being renamed Jamaica Volleyball Association.
That move came about to allow amateurs and professionals to fall under one body in keeping with the international rules.
Much emphasis during that time was placed on the national junior programme with regular participation in the Caribbean Junior Championships.
The Jamaica Volleyball Association celebrated its 40th anniversary in 1999 by hosting the second Caribbean Junior Championships.
And in that same year, the senior men’s team was invited to play in the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (NORCECA), Championships in Monterey, Mexico after the withdrawal of the Dominican Republic.
Jamaica finished eighth and last at the NORCECA Championships. Dominican Republic had qualified for the championships after beating Jamaica 2-1 to secure the final spot.
In 2001, Jamaica participated in the World Championships qualification series in Aruba for the first time. The female team progressed to the second round of qualification in the Dominican Republic, but failed to progress further. It was the first exposure for the female team at that level of competition.
Volleyball is very active at the school level. Wolmer’s Girls and Knox Boys have dominated the sports over the years. Wolmer’s Girls won all the national championships between 1990 and 1997. The school’s dominance was halted by Alpha in 1998 and 1999.
Wolmer’s Girls were back on top in 2000 and continue to be a force to be reckoned with.
Knox’s dominated the boys’ game from 1989 until it was broken by Kingston Technical High School in 1994. After 1997 St. Jago, Mannings and Maud McLeod have proved competitive.
The 1990s produced some of the best players, who benefited from modern international coaching techniques. One of the country’s best player produced during that period was David Jack, who competed on the USA semi-professional circuit.
In 1993, Jack was named best server, best passer, best defender and most valuable player at the Caribbean Championships in Trinidad.
Other top players were Colin Henry, Lynford Foreman, Ortnel Findley, Rupert McRae, Donovan Garvey, Owen Leslie and Georgette Crawford.
In a move to further develop the sport in Jamaica, NORCECA handed the local association a new volleyball court and equipment worth over US$40,000 earlier this year.
The Jamaican senior national men’s team is currently ranked 13th of 32 teams in the NORCECA region; while the senior female team is ranked 11th of 33 countries in the region.
Major Warrenton Dixon is the president of the Jamaica Volleyball Association.
Major Dixon is also second vice-president of the Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association.