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Mike O’Hara, “a giant of our sport,” leaves lasting volleyball legacy

From left, Ron Lang, Gene Selznick, Mike Vibrant, Mike O'Hara/O'Hara circle of relatives

Mike O’Hara, one in every of volleyball’s all-time greats — each at the courtroom after which after his taking part in profession — died February 1 at 85.

“He was once a large of our recreation,” former USA volleyball trainer, participant and CEO Doug Beal stated. “He’s one of the crucial distinctive icons of our recreation as a participant, each indoors and at the sea coast, and as a promoter.”

O’Hara excelled in each indoor and sea coast volleyball.

“He was once an ideal participant,” stated beach-great Ron Lang, who was once one in every of O’Hara’s opponents indoors and at the sea coast. “And large is overused at the present time, however he was once actually an ideal participant.”

O’Hara, who had headaches related to Alzheimer’s, is survived through his spouse of 54 years, Arlen O’Hara, kids Kelley and Ryan, and grandchildren Spencer, Josie, and Michael.

“He had a large number of a laugh, had a large number of buddies, he sculpted his existence,” Arlen stated. “He designed it.”

Mike O'Hara-1964-Olympics-Tokyo
Mike Vibrant in motion within the Tokyo Olympic video games/O’Hara circle of relatives

O’Hara’s indoor accomplishments integrated faculty championships in 1953 and 1954, taking part in on 3 Pan American groups, together with gold in 1959 and silver in 1963, and he was once a member of the primary USA workforce to qualify for the Olympics in 1964.

O’Hara’s groups received six open department USA volleyball nationals titles, he was once named MVP in 1961 and 1963, and he gained seven first-team All-American honors.

O’Hara’s sea coast resume is headlined through profitable the primary 5 Long island Seaside open wins with Mike Vibrant, a mark that also stands.

“Mike was once in point of fact robust mentally. He had large want, he was once in point of fact arduous to overcome,” sea coast large Ron Von Hagen stated. “He may just in point of fact quilt the courtroom. They have been the primary of the large groups, however as the sport advanced the place they have been larger guys, their psychological strengths saved them on best. He’s a type of only a few avid gamers that have been on best each indoors and at the sea coast.

O’Hara, nicknamed “the Leaping Jack,” was once one of the crucial first avid gamers to dam at the sea coast, and definitely one of the potent hitters.

“He had two abilities that set him aside from all of the others. He had the need to win, and he was once one of the crucial easiest hitters at the sea coast,” Lang stated. “He may just hit from anyplace at the courtroom, and hit it arduous.”

Mike O'Hara-Arlen O'Hara-IVHOF-Hall of Fame-Hokyoke
Mike and Arlen O’Hara on the IVHOF induction rite in Holyoke, Mass., 1989

After his taking part in profession, O’Hara was once a promoter, organizer and broadcaster. He was once inducted into the World Volleyball Corridor of Reputation in 1989 (induction video beneath), the CBVA sea coast volleyball Corridor of Reputation in 1992 and the Southern California indoor volleyball Corridor of Reputation in 2017.

He all the time looked to be in the correct position to make important contributions, running with icons reminiscent of Peter Ueberroth for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Mark McCormick, who based the IMG sports activities company, Jerry Buss of the Lakers and Ted Turner of the TNT networks.

O’Hara advanced the World Volleyball Affiliation, Crew Cup, the World Monitor Affiliation, and the game of Wallyball. He assisted with the American Basketball Assocation, the place he was once at the committee that created the three-point shot, and the International Hockey Affiliation. As the landlord/writer of Wallyball, he pioneered rally-scoring, which has since been followed through the FIVB.

“He was once simply in point of fact hooked in to the game,” Beal stated. “He had super creativity, pressure, and concepts. In some respects he was once almost certainly forward of his time. He was once all the time pondering of attention-grabbing world occasions and actions for the game.”

O’Hara was once born in Waco, Texas, however moved to California at 7. He grew up at the sea coast in Santa Monica, attending Santa Monica Top College. He was once Four-foot-10 within the 10th grade, however grew 17 inches in 18 months, attaining his complete top of 6-Four. He attended Santa Monica Town School ahead of moving to UCLA, the place he took up volleyball.

In 1953, O’Hara and his Delta Tau Delta pals received the intramural championships at UCLA. They talked the athletic director into letting them constitute UCLA within the nationwide collegiate volleyball championships in Omaha, Nebraska.

After profitable the championships, the workforce piled again into the automobile, roping the championship trophy to the roof of the automobile, and talked the UCLA athletic director into making volleyball a varsity recreation upon their go back, beginning a volleyball program that has received 19 championships.

He met Arlen at the sea coast in 1961.

“I used to be observing the match at Corona, sitting on my towel, and throughout the fit, the ball rolled over to the place I used to be sitting. I picked the ball up, and threw it again to the fellow, and our eyes met, and that was once the start of our 55 years in combination,” stated Arlen, noting that they married 18 months later in 1963.

He was once remarkably environment friendly as a sea coast participant.

“He had an implausible share of first- and second-place finishes (77 % in step with BVBinfo.com) within the tournaments he performed in, I believe he was once first or moment almost about each and every match he performed in,” Von Hagen stated. “He had an ideal document.”

Lang performed two occasions with O’Hara.

“He taught me something” Lang stated, “You'll out-think your opponent.”

O’Hara’s volleyball taking part in days led to his overdue 60s, however he was once nonetheless in a position to gasoline his aggressive fires whilst competing at the senior 70s tennis circuit.

IVA-International Volleyball Association-Mike O'Hara-Wilt Chamberlain
World Volleyball Affiliation organizers/O’Hara circle of relatives

In all probability the most important of O’Hara’s passions was once the Olympics.

“He beloved the Olympics,” Arlen stated. “He had buddies in all places the arena from a wide variety of various sports activities. And he beloved volleyball, indoors and out.”

O’Hara attended each and every Olympics from 1964 to 2012. Within the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 he labored for Ueberroth as director of world tv, promoting the TV rights out of the country. He additionally consulted in more than a few capacities for the Calgary, Seoul, and Barcelona Video games.

As a broadcaster, O’Hara labored a couple of summer season Olympics video games, in addition to the Goodwill Video games.

“I believe every so often he both intimidated or scared other people as a result of he considered volleyball as a extra mainstream recreation,” Beal stated. “I believe a large number of the time we prohibit the game ourselves in the way in which we take into consideration it, through pondering small.

“I in point of fact preferred his creativity. I in point of fact loved the interactions we had. Each time I noticed him, he would all the time have two or 3 large initiatives both lively or in his thoughts. He was once an competitive and artistic philosopher in regards to the recreation, and I all the time beloved that.”

O’Hara’s son, Ryan, who performed at Pacific Palisades Top and Stanford, recollects the eagerness his father had for the sport.

“I used to be 6 years previous and he he was once 42 and our objective was once to bump the ball from side to side 100 occasions. It took a number of days, however we in any case did, and we have been so excited. It was once superior, it was once an enormous accomplishment,” Ryan recalled. “It was once the primary time that I fell in love with volleyball as a result of I may just see that I used to be getting higher. It was once an ideal second for us.”

The circle of relatives stated services and products are scheduled for April eight.

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