May 27, 2005
Fresh off a two-week, four-country European tour with her team, Notre Dame head volleyball coach Debbie Brown headed straight to Denver this week to be honored, along with the rest of the 1980 USA Women’s Olympic Volleyball Team, at USA Volleyball’s 60th Annual Dorothy C. Boyce Awards and Recognitions Banquet on Thursday. Brown – then Debbie Landreth – was a co-captain of that squad, which did not compete in the Olympics due to a U.S. boycott.
The team was recognized during the “Boyce Moment” at the banquet in the Plaza Ballroom at the Adam’s Mark Hotel. On Friday, the 1980 team was scheduled to travel to Colorado Springs to visit their old “stomping grounds” at the United States Olympic Complex and to meet with the USA women’s head coach “Jenny” Lang Ping and the current members of the national team.
Twenty-five years ago, the Arie Selinger-coached Americans Janet Baier, Carolyn Becker, Rita Crockett, Patty Dowdell, Laurie Flachmeier, Debbie Green, Flo Hyman, Laurel Brassey, Debbie Landreth, Diane McCormick, Terry Place and Sue Woodstra were considered a favorite to win the volleyball gold medal at those Summer Games. But the USA women had their Olympic dreams shattered when the U.S. Olympic Committee’s House of Delegates at the urging of President Jimmy Carter voted to boycott the 1980 Olympiad in Moscow to protest the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
“There are two very appropriate reasons for honoring this team,” said USA Volleyball Chief Executive Officer, Doug Beal. “One, 25 years after the team played is a significant milestone and we ought to acknowledge their silver anniversary. Secondly, it was a team that was very much a favorite for a medal in 1980. That team could have easily been the first Olympic medal team in USA Volleyball history.
“The Arie Selinger-led USA National Volleyball Team that emerged in the late 1970s, with such stars as Patty Dowdell, Flo Hyman, Debbie Green, Diane McCormick, Debbie Brown and Sue Woodstra, entered USA Women’s Volleyball into the world arena from which it has never retired,” recalled USA Volleyball President, Al Monaco. “When the team finished fifth at the 1978 World Championships at Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in Russia (then the Soviet Union), the international volleyball world was surprised and those at home were thrilled and excited. That team changed the face of U.S. volleyball forever and deserves to be always remembered and honored for being the special group that it was.”