William G. Morgan was an instructor at the Young Men’s Christian Association in Holyoke, Massachusetts. In 1895, Morgan decided to blend elements of basketball, tennis and handball to create a game for his classes of businessmen that would demand less physical contact than basketball.

His idea created the game that he titled Mintonette. Morgan borrowed the net from tennis and raised it 6 feet 6 inches above the floor, just above the average man’s head. He used a ball that resembled a small basketball that a player would strike with his hand.

After an observer, Alfred Halstead, noticed the volleying nature of the game at its first exhibition match in 1896, played at the International YMCA Training School (now called Springfield College), the game quickly became known as volleyball (it was originally spelled as two words).

The high school season is about to get underway with jamboree games starting on Aug. 27 and the regular season kicking off Sept. 1.

Coach Allison Leake’s Lady Gators are preparing for this season.

“We had very high expectations for our team last season, but they outperformed my expectations,” Leake said. “We ended the season playing in the semifinals of the state tournament in Division I against St. Joseph’s Academy, and that match was actually one of the best matches we played all year.”

This year’s squad will have to overcome the loss of senior Kara Gremillion, who made “All Everything” in every sport she played in.

“We will be a young team, but our expectations will remain high, competing for a district win and another run at the state playoffs,” Leake said.

Senior Kourtney Gremillion will return as one of the team’s setters and right-side hitters.

“She is extremely powerful and knowledgeable, so we will be looking to her to be a leader in her senior year,” the coach said.

Junior Brianne Babin was a defensive specialist for the Lady Gators last year, but this year she may play many roles.

“We are looking at her to play in the libero position, along with setting and hitting,” Leake said. “She has a lot of volleyball experience and knowledge which will enhance our defense this season.”

Sophomore Taylor Tidwell was an inexperienced freshman last year. During the off-season she has grown taller and gotten stronger and more knowledgeable about the game. She will be one of the go-to hitters this season. The Gators will have to start the season without junior Maggie Duplechein, a force last year at the net, but unfortunately in spring track, she tore her ACL.

Juniors Madison Anderson and Abby Gros will need to contribute to the effort from the start.

“Anderson will surprise a lot of people because she is small in size but has a great vertical and is also very powerful and strong,” Leake said. “Gros will be contributing to our defense either as a defensive specialist or libero. She is very quick and reads the ball well.”

Sophomores Baylee Rambin and Megan Arceneaux will help, as well.

“Rambin will be an imperative piece to our puzzle; she is strong and competitive. Her volleyball skills will improve every practice and match. Arceneaux is another imperative piece to our puzzle and will improve every practice and match. Our young players will definitely play a big part in how successful we are this season,” Leake said.

La. Outdoor Writers group holds annual conference

The Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association held its annual conference in Morgan City the weekend of Aug. 7-9. This gathering of writers, broadcast media and authors gets together to honor their best of the best in the state and youth journalists as well.

The conference starts off with a fishing day on Friday and this year’s was no different. The Ascension Area Anglers hosted nine of the group’s finest for a half-day of bass fishing. Some went to the Lake Verret area and the other group went to Bayou Black.

The trip was a success as every boat caught bass on a variety of baits. I along with Goosie Guice and our host Tim Carmouche landed 15 bass using plastics and a Spro frog. Wendy “Bayou Woman” Billiot from down in Dularge was fishing with Corey Wheat and had the same success.

But there’s usually a story within a story, and this trip was no different. Billiot is a charter captain and eco-tour guide. Her weapon of choice when fishing is a spinning rod but as fate would have it, Wheat broke her rod, which sort of forced the learning of how to use a bait caster.

Back at the launch, Wheat said, “Man, within about 10 attempts Wendy was casting with either hand so well she caught seven of the bass we landed today.”

The birds of south Louisiana put on quite a show as we were treated to two eagles flying in our short morning of fishing as well as a host of osprey and many other wading birds.

But the highlight of our outdoor activities was a guided tour of the Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge. We were hosted by Brian Pember, a wildlife refuge specialist, and Donovan Garcia, with Friends of Bayou Teche NWR. We met at the refuge office for some coffee and fellowship but ended up with one of the best history lessons about the town of Franklin one could imagine.

We got the opportunity to take a short walk down three of the many hiking trails afforded within the NWR. There are kayaking and canoeing opportunities along with guided tours available. The boats are provided for children and adults. The wildlife viewing is spectacular, and the birding is second to none during the spring.

Hunting and fishing opportunities are available as well and all the info can be found at fws.gov/bayouteche or bayoutecherefugefriends.org.

East Ascension Ducks Unlimited banquet

The East Ascension Ducks Unlimited Chapter will hold its annual fundraising banquet on Sept. 10 at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in the Trade Mart building starting at 5:30 p.m. This is a great opportunity to meet with the duck hunting community, eat some good food and have a good time while supporting efforts to preserve duck hunting for the future.

Tickets are $60 for an individual or $100 for couples, and there are corporate sponsorships and table sponsorships available as well. The price includes a great meal, some drinks and a yearlong membership to Ducks Unlimited. The fun includes a live auction, silent auction, door prizes and raffles. Tickets are available online at l a.ducks.org or you can call Charles Labouisse at (225) 266-2909.

Lyle Johnson covers sports for The Ascension Advocate. He can be contacted at reelman@eatel.net or ascension@ theadvocate.com.