What Professional Colleagues Say About Nelson!


Ruth came to Chicago and joined my Rebels team in 1971. She worked very hard to improve her game. But, she also worked at learning everything that she could about the sport of volleyball. It is always a pleasure to see one of my girls carry on and become a good volleyball coach. Congratulations on receiving the All-Time Great Coach – Pioneer Division for 2011!

Bertha Lucas, Director Chicago Rebels

Extraordinary coaches are those who use the power of sport to teach players and coaches life lessons: the pursuit of excellence, resilience in the face of a loss or poor performance, perseverance when challenges are almost overwhelming, a commitment to hard work and practice as the key to achievement, and respect for teammates and opponents, those who help make you better. Combine this philosophy of sport as a laboratory for human development, add 40 years of consistent and focused effort, an incredible passion for the sport, and caring about the personal development of the young people she has coached, from youth and junior club players just beginning their volleyball journeys to national team stars, and you have Ruth Nelson, a coach who has really made a difference in others' lives. Coach Nelson greatly deserved to be honored with the 2011 Bertha H. Lucas All-Time Great Coach Award.

Donna A. Lopiano, Ph.D., President, Sports Management Resources & Former CEO, Women's Sports Foundation

Hey getting ready to travel… CONGRATS! That is great. I am so happy for you. I don't know anyone more dedicated and deserving of this award. You have put so much time, love and care, nurturing the young kids, not only in becoming lovers of the game but good people too. It is so wonderful that you were chosen to receive this award; I would have loved to see your face when you were told since you do everything from your heart and would not have expected it.

Danielle Scott-Arruda, 4-Time Olympian

Recognition for your contributions to the sport of volleyball!

In Tokyo, Japan, 1964 I was privileged to watch volleyball become a recognized Olympic Game. Our women's team from the United States confronted new skills and techniques in a game that has become internationally competitive and accepted. You are one of the persons responsible for the growth, popularity and acceptance of volleyball around the world. As I have watched your involvement from the first years of our acquaintance in the l970's I have observed your commitment to those who wished to improve their knowledge, skills, strategies and growth of the sport. You have worked with youth groups, club participants, collegiate competitors and players who developed into Olympic participants. You continue to convey your knowledge of the many aspects of the sport, from personal development to team play and competitive integrity.

My congratulations go to you, and thank you for allowing me to share in the joy of your recognition as a pioneer leader in the development of volleyball.

Dr. Hally B.W. Poindexter, Professor Emerita, Kinesiology, Rice University, Houston, Texas

Congratulations on being selected as the All-Time Great Coach - Pioneer Division for 2001!

It is so great that you have been recognized for all that you have done for the sport of volleyball by this prestigious award. You are truly deserving! You have unselfishly given so much time and love to the wide spectrum of the sport of volleyball -- competitor, youth programs, teacher, coach, Special Olympics and the development of Olympic players. It is as a teacher at all levels that you may have made some of your most significant contributions. Your understanding and knowledge of the game has helped so many different individuals reach their full potential. That is truly special!

I celebrate your receiving of this award with so many others who appreciate all that you have given to volleyball.

Martha E. Hawthorne

Rice University Women's Athletics Administrator-retired; Former University of Houston Volleyball & Tennis coach

Congratulations to you on your well-deserved USA Volleyball All-Time Great Coach award.

I am reminded of your work with Special Olympics and, how valuable your efforts were in developing the Special Olympics Volleyball Program. In the early 1980s, when we had less than 25 teams in the entire Special Olympics volleyball program worldwide, your great spirit, knowledge and expertise, along with personal contacts and great players throughout USA Volleyball, provided the plan and energy to make volleyball available to every Special Olympics USA program as well as National Programs, outside the USA. You were named the first Special Olympics Director for Volleyball and set the stage for a very successful and ever-expanding program.

Volleyball was a small, almost insignificant, sport within Special Olympics, and you changed that status in a little over five short years. The sport of volleyball evolved from a small number of teams and participants at the 1983 Special Olympics World Summer Games, to having to initiate a selection process for volleyball competition at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in 1987. As a result of your personal efforts and enthusiasm, today more than 20,000 special athletes compete annually in Special Olympics competitions, as well as open competitions with regular volleyball players, around the world.

We traveled with the Special Olympics Training Team to introduce volleyball to the then Soviet Union, now Russia. Your status as a well-known USA coach and your skills, knowledge and experience as a high-level coach made the clinics and follow-up volleyball competitions a great success.

You worked with conviction to put together a plan to provide volleyball training and competition for people with and without disability. Today, Unified Sports® is one of Special Olympics' most successful worldwide programs. You should be very proud of your good work and of the many accomplishments during your years as Volleyball Director with Special Olympics. You helped make the World a more fair and just place for Special Olympics athletes and their teammates.

As Eunice Kennedy Shriver once said, during one of your many volleyball clinics, "Ruth, you are a real coach!" I wholeheartedly agree! Again, congratulations on receiving this great honor.

Thomas B. Songster, Ph.D.

Vice President, Special Olympics International and Senior Advisor to Eunice Kennedy Shriver (Retired)

To have the opportunity to recognize and applaud a professional colleague who is being honored with a very special award is a personal honor for me. In receiving the USA Volleyball's All Time Great Coach award in the Bertha H. Lucas All Time Great Coach – Pioneer Division for 2011, you are bringing credit to the sport of volleyball – the love and passion of your life. Congratulations for all your efforts, successes and the significant impact you have made on your sport at all levels.

Not enough people in life take the time to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with the vibrant energy and pursuit of excellence you have demonstrated. You have truly raised the bar for the sport of volleyball. Most would not have taken the care to be as precise as you have been in being a leader that has made a true difference.

Ruth, in all the years that I have known you, you have never given less than your very best. That alone is a huge undertaking, but you have always been willing to go the extra mile. I remember full well your willingness to help me undertake the writing of a manual that would ultimately be used to run the AIAW National Volleyball Championship. I was impressed at the time with your willingness to get involved, and the fact that you have not ever stopped being actively involved with volleyball. I believe that most people may not have ever known the extent of your early involvement as a pioneer, dating back to the early seventies. You were a youngster then, but you were always willing to help no matter the cause. Teaching and coaching remain a special part of you. The youngsters and players that have trained or played for you have been touched by one of the very best!

Your efforts and lifelong commitment to the sport of volleyball have more than made a difference at all levels of the sport. You have touched the lives of many, and I am sure all will remember you. To touch the lives of others and bring them joy is your special gift to everyone.

Celebrate this event! Remember all the good times and the lessons you have passed on to others. Your footprints in the sand will last forever. My best wishes to you always. Your loyalty and friendship will be cherished for a lifetime.

Your professional colleague and friend,

Dr. Karol A. Kahrs

– retired, Sr. Associate Director of Athletics – University of Illinois

It is so exciting to see you recognized for such a well-deserved honor! How many years you have spent pursuing the sport you have committed your life to! How few coaches have even gone out of the country pursuing greater knowledge and self development as well as giving of your energy, your teaching, and imparting your love of this game! You moved around the country to train in the best possible situations from the top colleges and coaches of the times when you were a young player and student of the game. You provided loyal support to top national programs and led collegiate teams to amazing heights as a head coach!! You enticed minority athletes to pursue our game, and you led disabled players. Your loyalty and friendship earned you respect and inclusion with international programs and with top programs. Even more importantly, you have been a role model to many, many students and have demonstrated the highest values and standards.

You have been a daughter to our Texas mother, Pat McChesney. That gracious giving of your time and selfless care and love for her and now for her memory cannot be measured. I have had the pleasure of knowing you and following your career and successes for almost forty years now. And I continue to marvel at your energy and intensity for teaching volleyball to youth of all ages and levels.

May you enjoy to the fullest this special moment and the enduring reward for a truly outstanding career! Thank you for allowing me to share time with you!!

Marilyn McReavy-Nolen

Former Head Coach Sul Ross, Kentucky, Florida, North Florida, New Mexico, Utah State, St. Louis , Women's Sports Foundation Hall of Fame in 1978 Inaugural recipient of USA Volleyball's All-Time Great Coaches Award in 1996

Congratulations on receiving USA Volleyball's All-Time Great Coach Award in the Bertha H. Lucas All-Time Great Coach – Pioneer Division for 2011; it is well overdue. Where do I begin? You were the first and the only coach to initially provide opportunities for the black athlete to succeed in volleyball. You recognized ability and capability and provided the necessary teaching, coaching, performance training, pool training, motivation, encouragement and support to help others and me achieve the next level. I can still hear you encourage me to "keep going" – go through the tough times – to get it done, to be a leader and to be a role model!

When I was with the National Team, I often talked with you because I knew you understood. When I needed to be motivated, you kicked me forward. When I needed a sounding board, you listened. You also taught me the importance of the first impression, whether walking out onto the court, into a classroom or down the street. "Be the bold woman that you are," you would say. I am extremely thankful and feel blessed for the many opportunities and "life lessons". It gave me the foundation I needed to achieve in volleyball and to see a dream come true – building and utilizing my own facility in which to train youth and club volleyball players.

Ruth, you have been a player, a coach, a mentor and a friend. What you saw in me I am now paying forward to the youth and young women whom I coach.

Again, congratulations on this honor and prestigious award.

Rose Magers-Powell, Head Volleyball Coach, Martin Methodist College, Former Player at Houston and LSU 1984 USA Women's Olympic Team