California Beach Volleyball Hall of Famers (left to right, top row) Mike Dodd, Matt Gage, George Stephanof, Sinjin Smith, Buzz Swarts, Janice Harrer, Kathy Gregory, Patty Dodd, Mike O’Hara, Denny Smith, Dane Selznick and Gary Hooper. (Bottom row, left to right) Tim Hovland, Mike Cook, Eric Fonoimoana, Steve Obradovich, Kevin Cleary, Gene Popko and Butch May. Photo by Kevin Cody
Eric Fonoimoana, who’s known for speaking his mind, was at times at a loss for words; and Matt Gage, whose known for rarely speaking at all, couldn’t contain his enthusiasm during the 2013 California Volleyball Hall of Fame inductions two weeks ago. The ceremony took place at the Hermosa Beach Community Theater, next door to Hermosa Beach Historical Museum, which is home to the Beach Volleyball Hall of Fame.
Fonoimoana, the beach volleyball gold medalist with partner Dain Blanton at the 2000 Olympics in Australia, was inducted into the Hall of Fame, along with Buzz Swarts, Patty Dodd and Jack Adriance. Kathy Gregory, an inductee in 1992, the inaugural year of the Hall of Fame, was also recognized.
Eric Fonoimoana recalls being inspired at Marine Street by both the fiery Tim Hovland and the quiet Mike “The Assassin” Dodd.
“Dream big. Sometimes it will come true,” Fonoimoana said, after recalling the first time he made it to the main court at Marine Street in Manhattan Beach. Beach volleyball’s top players not only trained at the Marine Street courts when he was growing up, but also mentored young players, Fonoimoana said.
Fonoimoana said he hopes today’s young players will have similar opportunities. As a step in that direction he noted that he and fellow volleyball Olympian Holly McPeak have organized a program that has helped 14 high school players earn division I school scholarships for this coming fall.
The highlight of the evening was footage of Fonoimoana’s and Blanton’s Olympic gold medal victory over the top ranked Brazilian team, which had repeatedly beaten Fonoi and Blanton earlier that year. The match has been described as one of the most perfectly played matches in volleyball history.
Inductee Buzz Swarts and Matt Gage. The two won five open tournaments together, including the Manhattan Beach Open.
Matt Gage’s uncharacteristically effusive remarks came during his introduction of his former playing partner Buzz Swarts. Gage, himself a member of the Hall of Fame, recalled Swarts as someone who treated everyone as a friend and was revered as a mentor.
“He is the only teammate I’ve ever had who would congratulate a player on the other side of the net for a good play,” Gage said.
Inaugural 1992 Hall of Fame inductee Kathy Gregory (second from left) with 2013 Inductees Buzz Swarts, Patty Dodd and Eric Fonoimoana.
Dodd, whose husband Mike Dodd was inducted in 2000, told the overflowing auditorium audience that she is proudest at having helped paved the way for beach volleyball’s growth, and in particular seeing it become a collegiate sport.
“Captain Jack” Adriance was recognized for his documentation of beach volleyball during the 1960s and 1970s. ER
Eric Fonoimoana is congratulated by his Mira Costa High School coach Mike Cook.
Eric Fonoimoana and fellow Hall of Famer Kevin Cleary.
the irrepressible Mike O’Bradovich puts his footprint on the evening’s celebration.