William G. Morgan was born in Lockport, NY in 1870. In 1892 he was sent to school at Springfield College in Massachusetts by his parents. From that point Morgan decided that he would like to pursue a career in physical education and took on a job at the Holyoke, MA YMCA. Quite by coincidence a man by the name of James Naismith was also pursing a career in physical education at the Springfield, MA YMCA just a few miles away and he had just invented a game called basketball. Morgan liked the new game of basketball but he had noticed that the game was very physically demanding and was concerned that some of the older members of his YMCA in Holyoke would not be able to enjoy the game. Morgan then decided to develop a game that a broader range of people could play and enjoy. Morgan developed the game of volleyball and began his trek to international notoriety.
When Morgan first developed volleyball and the rules for volleyball he called the game mintonette. As he began to hold exhibitions of his new game of mintonette he began to attract a lot of interest. A gentleman named Alfred Halstead suggested that Morgan call his new game volleyball and the name stuck. From there volleyball and its creator went on to become internationally known and volleyball became an Olympic sport.
I love the story of the creation of volleyball and William G. Morgan because it all begins in my hometown. We are lucky because there are thousands of small towns in the United States but only a small handful have a story to tell that is known all over the world. We used to have a sign as you came into town that said “Welcome to Lockport, NY – Home of William G. Morgan the inventor of volleyball” but the city took it down last year. I think they put a sign about the New York state swim champs being from Lockport in its place. I haven’t looked in a while so I don’t remember. Either way it was nice to see the city educating the public about one of our sources of pride.
Did you also know that the fire hydrant was invented by Birdsill Holly in Lockport, NY as well? Thomas Edison had invited Holly to come invent with him at Menlo Park but Holly turned him down stating that he preferred to live in Lockport. I think Birdsill Holly was on to something about living in Lockport.
You just never know what secrets, or international impact, your own little hometown may hold. I encourage everyone to go to your local library, or do some research on the internet, about your own hometown. In Lockport not only can we lay claim to the inventor of volleyball and the invention of the fire hydrant but also have one of the largest Drive In movie theaters in the world. It is amazing what you can find out about the town you live in, or the town you are from, if you just take the time to do a little research.