The Beginning

The Founder

Mr Fricsons came to Australia after world War 2 with his mother and son. He had qualified in law at the univeristy in Latvia, and studied in Australia to become a Maths/Science teacher. He met his wife Faye in 1965 and married in 1970. Apparently a very good athlete in his day he played soccer in Latvia, Volleyball in Germany and social tennis in Australia into his 50’s. But his wife Faye commented that volleyball was his life and he was forever on the phone organising competitions, making up draws and going to tournaments in Australia and overseas (Japan, Hawaii, New Zealand).

As a maths teacher at Heidelberg High School he was asked to get involved with sport so he started a school based volleyball team. He wrote to all schools in the area to recruit players and he held trainings with a Polish mens team in North Melbourne. He founded the Heidelberg Volleyball Club in the late 1960’s (no date can be confirmed) and established a training base in Balwyn.In the early 1970’s he moved the trainings to University High School in Parkville.

Linda Coustley (nee Horton) says John Fricsons started the Heildelberg Volley Ball club as the Heidelberg High School Volley Ball Team. We trained and played on outside courts before moving to the VAVA. He would pick up all of the players on a Saturday to go to training as we were too young to drive. He collected players from Ivanhoe, Heidelberg, Heidelberg West and Greensborough for training and then for weekend games. Even when we won our matches he would go over the whole game with us to ensure that our tactics and skills were kept up to par. We would train in North Melbourne agains a men’s team to build our skills and we would sometimes visit the Sisu team for their training nights. State championships were held in Burwood and Heidelberg was not very well liked because of our long winning streak. We travelled to Adelaide in 1974 for the Australian Championships and came home victorious again. I was a setter in the original high school team which started about 1969 (from memory) and left the club in 1976. I have a school team photo at home and will try to locate it and forward a copy.

Jan Stoll (started playing at age 15 and joined Heidelberg as a teenager in the early 1970’s) was interviewed some years back and provided the following information: “He was very disciplined and very dedicated from the start. He played a major role in women’s volleyball. He recruited top women for Heidelberg and Victorian Junior Teams. He was a very good tactician and was a more conservative coach (didn’t tolerate people mucking about) and he would win with a basic game of volleyball. He was a disciplinarian who got results.”

Mr Fricsons coached both men and women but by mid 1970’s had started to use assistant coaches (Ziggy and John Kruk)and he focussed on the women’s teams. Heidelberg women were Victorian premiers for 9 years straight and the top 1 or 2 teams in Australia throughout the 1970’s. He coached the Australian under 20 women’s team from 1978 to 1981. He coached the Victorian under 17 and 20 women’s teams for 9 years with the under 20 women winning the Australian Championships from 1970-1979 and the under 17’s finishing top three in every year. He also coached the Victorian Senior women’s team to break a 9 year drought as Australian Champions (back when there was a national senior championships).

Mr Fricsons was the foundation president of the Melbourne Volleyball Association (MVA) which started as the Metropolitan VA but outgrew its title. He was honorary president for 15 years until 1990. He was known and respected by Australian Volleyball Association members and was a huge supporter of tournaments Australia wide.

Ziggy Kruk is quoted as saying: “Mr Fricsons was very strong minded, disciplined, but not insensitive – also emotional and generous and devoted to volleyball. He would think, sleep, eat volleyball and was always thinking, planning 6-8 months ahead. He was busy with training through the week with Heidelberg, training on weekends with state under 17 and under 20, and in the early years was busy developing the club. He took every opportunity to go to every available tournament in Australia.

He got results because he was very strict with the basics, e.g. drills of 100 x sets, digs, spikes and very successful in developing setters through good basic technique. He also emphasized serving – Heidelberg and state teams won lots of points because they pushed very hard for very precise serving (he didn’t tolerate 2 mistakes = substitution).

He spoke to players as team+individual, and tried to bring out the best in each player. He was able to extract blood from a stone to improve the players at their particular level.

He was strong minded and clever and didn’t take excuses from the girls because he was trying to develop character that could do it if they wanted to. He would also laugh with them so he was tough but also emotional.”

Mr Fricsons – A Tribute from Volleyball Victoria

For over 20 years, Argods (John) Fricsons was ‘Mr Volleyball’ to hundreds of Victorian and National players. Mr Fricsons died recently aged 74. As coach of the highly successful Heidelberg Volleyball Club and several Victorian and Australian women’s teams, he was instrumental in the development of the sport.

Latvian born, Mr Fricsons was a maths teacher at Heidelberg high School and he founded the Heidelberg Volleyball Club in the late 1960’s. When the club relocated to University High School, he continued its administration but concentrated on coaching its women’s teams. In the 1970’s, the Heidelberg women dominated volleyball as state champions for nine consecutive years.

Mr Fricsons was also successful with state and national squads including Australian Under 20’s Women’s Teams. Under his direction, the Victorian under 20’s women won the national titles from 1970-1979, while the under 17’s also won many premierships.

A major highlight of his coaching career was the victory of the Victorian senior women’s side at the Australian championships in 1982 after a nine year dought.

As founder of the Melbourne Volleyball Association and its honorary president for 15 years, he was tireless in the organisation of the sport. As a coach he was a very strong disciplinarian who enabled every player to achieve their potential.

In his moccasins and old green jumper, Mr Fricsons was a familiar figure around the volleyball courts. He was well respected and will be remembered as a dedicated and successful coach and administrator.

Jody Soren
Victorian Volleyball Association


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