Flo Hyman (1954-1986) is recognized as the best volleyball player in the world during her lifetime, perhaps ever. Hyman helped lead the United States to a silver medal as team captain in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games.
Hyman grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, California. She and graduated from Morningside High School. Her father was a railroad janitor and her mother owned a café. In high school, Hyman played basketball and ran track and field for but only played volleyball in tournaments at the beach with her older sister.
Once at the University of Houston, coach Ruth Nelson noticed Hyman’s skills on a club team and awarded her the first female athletic scholarship at the school. Standing 6’ 5”, became a three-time All-American volleyball player for the Cougars while majoring in mathematics and physical education.
She left college and joined a national volleyball team. The struggling team performed poorly in the 1964 and 1968 Summer Olympic Games, then failed to qualify for the Games in 1972 and 1976. The American team was favored to win gold at the 1980 Olympic games, but the United States boycotted the games along with 62 other countries. Flo Hyman finally got her chance to metal in the 1984 Summer Olympics when she led the team to Olympic Silver.
After the Olympics, Hyman joined civil rights leader Coretta Scott King, astronaut Sally Ride, and Democratic vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro in lobbying for the Civil Rights Restoration Act and women’s sports causes. Hyman testified on Capitol Hill in Washington on behalf of strengthening Title IX, the break-through 1972 legislation that prohibited sex discrimination by athletic programs in universities that receive federal funding.
Her love of the game called her to continue to play in Japan where there were greater professional volleyball opportunities. Flo Hyman was a star player and helped her team rise two divisions, to a D1 team, in just two years. Sadly, during a match in 1986, Flo died unexpectedly of Marfan Syndrome, a genetic heart anomaly. News of her death shocked the world as people all over mourned the loss of such a talented athlete and generous person. Ultimately her passing helped raise awareness of Marfan Syndrome and save her brothers live when it was discovered that he had it as well.
Fly Hyman was an incredible athlete on the court and an inspiration to others off the court. Today we honor this Goddess of Volleyball.
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