Chuck Nelson | 2020 Thomas Haine All-Time Great Male Player | Pioneer
Chuck Nelson was flying high when he was introduced to volleyball at the Topeka, Kansas YMCA, thinking this new game might be a fun addition to the other sports he played at Washburn University.
Shortly after graduating in 1956, Chuck joined the U.S. Air Force. While not flying jet fighters, he continued his new love for volleyball in the military. Chuck was selected Air Force and Armed Forces All-American first-team in 1958 and 1959, plus USA Volleyball All-American second-team while still serving in the Air Force.
Chuck also represented the USA on the volleyball court as he was selected to every U.S. Men’s National Team from 1959 to 1964. He was a Team USA member when it won gold at the 1959 Pan American Games and silver at the 1963 Pan American Games. Chuck represented the USA at the 1964 Olympic Games when indoor volleyball made its Olympic debut.
Chuck played in several USA Volleyball Open National Championships where he earned first-team All-American in 1963 and two second-team selections. Chuck helped Team Hollywood YMCA to the 1964 Open title after being runner-up with Stockton YMCA in 1963.
Chuck retired from competitive volleyball following the 1964 Olympics, but that didn’t stop his involvement in the sport. He was a member of several senior national teams and earned all-American honors in senior age categories. He last wore the red, white and blue at the 1989 Senior World Championship in Denmark as USA won both the 55- and 45-age division titles.
In 1968, Chuck started the Pepperdine University volleyball program. From 1975 to 1977, he served as the commissioner and CEO of the International Volleyball Association, the first-ever professional volleyball league in the USA. Chuck also worked for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.