If you walked into the back of Rascals, a teriyaki grill on Bellflower, you’d see a wall lined with Long Beach State sports memorabilia and posters, mostly representing women’s sports. The items in the black and yellow shrine were not donated by the university, but by retired Long Beach residents Donna Schultze and Bill King, a couple who have been the biggest fans of LBSU women’s sports for over two decades.
After seeing men’s sports represented in Rascals, Schultze spoke with the manager who told her he didn’t have any posters of women’s sports to put on the walls.
“I’ll get you the posters,” Schultze said.
Although the couple contribute to multiple teams on campus, they are most committed to women’s volleyball, and have attended every game, even on the road, and most practices for the past several years. Their contributions to the team go far beyond generating a little local exposure.
They also run Spikernews, a newsletter that’s distributed through Twitter which Schultze uses to live tweet the games to her 400+ followers. They publish multiple stories every week, with additional elements as well. The newsletter includes a recap of that week’s games, scouting reports for upcoming opponents, rosters including academic year, an upcoming schedule and player profiles.
“We write a profile every week until we cover all the players,” King said.
They started the newsletter in 2008 after becoming season ticket holders in the late ‘90s. Their motivation came from creating a better fan experience.
“We just felt like there was something missing. If I’m a fan, I would like to know a little more about this a little more about that, so it just kept adding elements to the newsletter,” King said.
Although Schultze offered various explanations as to why they devote so much of their time to the team, their motivation stems from an intense love for the sport.They head to the pyramid to watch practice multiple times a week to watch as many games as they can and when they aren’t cheering on the team, they’re writing about them. .
“I try to arrange everything around volleyball,” Schultze said.
Shultze has always been passionate about sports and was a star athlete in her own college days. She was a star multi-sport athlete at Cerritos College in the late ‘70s. She won player of the year and averaged 20 points a game for the basketball team in 1976 and in the same year, batted .500 as a shortstop for the softball team en route to a state championship. She won the all-sport player of the year twice while at Cerritos.
“I had a twin brother, so I was always playing with the boys,” Schultze said.
After Cerritos, Donna attended LBSU, but was told she was too small to play basketball. She never attended a volleyball game while she was a student at LBSU.
King’s adult involvement with sports began when he had two sons in little league and he decided to start coaching. Before long, however, he rose to top-level softball coaching. In high school he played JV water polo for three years.
After competing and coaching, they became die-hard volleyball fans because of a single day in 1997. King kept reading about how good the team was that year, urging Donna to go to a game. Schultze didn’t feel like going at first.
“I played volleyball in high school and I just wasn’t that into it,” Schultze said.
When she found out that Debbie Green, widely regarded to this day as the greatest setter in U.S. Volleyball history, coached the team, she agreed to go see a match. The game would change the day-to-day rhythm of their lives.
“We went to one game and we just fell in love with the sport,” Schultze said.
LBSU, led by Misty May-Treanor, won the national championship that year. After that, both of them bought their first set of season tickets in 1998 and have renewed every year since.
“It’s a very underappreciated sport in this country,” King said. “We try to give the team something that is more useful than just money itself.”
Season tickets only apply to home games, but that wasn’t enough volleyball for them. In 2005 they started going to the road games and Schultze used Twitter, a relatively new platform at the time, to update fans.
“At the time there wasn’t a good way to get scores,” Schultze said.
She now sends dozens of updates during every game the team plays, wherever it may be in the country.
Head coach, Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer, said she appreciates the support Spikernews offers.
“They come and support the girls by traveling with us and there are a few others who do that and we need that. It’s hard to play on the road and it’s nice to know that we have a fan base when we’re on the road too,” McKienzie-Fuerbringer said.
Schultze and King were brought together through their involvement in sports, softball specifically. More than 40 years later, they are still as committed to each other as they are to LBSU volleyball. That makes it easy to understand why, to them, sports represents something much bigger than just a game.