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Mike Bright

Coach: Mike Bright

Beach VB began in Hermosa and State Beach Santa Monica. I grew up in Hermosa and began to pick up tidbits about how to play by some old guys that had pretty much given up everything to master the game. To get to the point, these ancient courts were dug out in the middle from years of play so that trying to hit on an eight foot net from the middle of the court was more likely over a nine foot plus obstacle. Therefore these players had to hang a set as close to the net as they could get. The only way to hit it was to climb the mound and jump almost straight up from beneath the net. Remember, there was no blocking over the net then so great setters were more of a premium than hitters. This is the worst possible way to hit a ball on a level groomed sand court but in those days there were none.

 In the sixties the NBA only had around ten teams and so at least in California, we had some pretty good athletes to help develop the sport. As the sport became more attractive to clothing sponsers and others, orginizations began throwing more and more tournaments. When I played there were only around seven or so tournaments a year. In a short time there were twenty then forty a year. They began leveling the  courts and at that time hitting on the beach changed forever. In my day no one believed that a one man block could be anything but a waste of energy as these guys could shoot around you easily. My partner O'Hara and I began playing around with block and fake blocking. The fake block worked well because the hitter had to jump straight up to hit and couldn't see the defense. When the courts became level we figured out that simply jumping forward at the ball to hit gave you, not only a subliminal glimpse of the defense, but because of the forward motion of your body you can hit higher and deeper.


Home Town Hermosa Beach, CA
Height 6'4"
  Best Finish Winnings
United States 1st (16 times) $0
   P&R 1st (16 times) $0
Overall 1st (16 times) $0

Inducted to the Volleyball Hall of Fame as a player in 1993.

Mike Bright was a dominant force in volleyball during the 1960s and early '70s.

In 1960, Mike played in his first national tournament, playing with the Hollywood YMCA. During the next 13 years, he led his team to eight championships and three runner-up finishes. Named an All-American nine times in that period, Mike was awarded the USVBA's "All-time Great Player" Award in 1983.

Internationally, Bright was a member of the 1960 U.S. National Team, which played in the World championships in Brazil, and won a Silver Medal at the 1963 Pan American Games.

When volleyball became an Olympic sport in 1964, Mike again represented the United States, in Tokyo. He was also a member of the 1968 Olympic team in Mexico City and the 1972 U.S. Qualifying Team.

Mike's volleyball achievements were not kept indoors; he was the top-ranked player on the "beach", having won the prestigious Manhattan Beach Doubles Open Tournament five years in a row.

Mike's athletic achievements arc not confined to volleyball. An accomplished basketball player, Mike was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame at El Camino College after an All-American career at Mira Costa High School.

After leaving El Camino Mike answered the call of the sea, traveling to paddleboard competitions. In 1956, he went to the Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, and competed in paddling and surfing, both exhibition sports for that year. In 1956 and 1957, he was the international paddleboard champion.

Mike is married to Patti Bright, also a gifted volleyball player, and has three daughters, Jodi, Lari and Bonnie, and a son, David.


Notes and memories from Mike Bright...'

56 was probably the fastest paddler in the world and went to the Melbourne Olympics as an exhibition sport. None of us were sure what an exhibionist was so we were issued trench coats.

On the '56 team I was with Greg Noll and all we did was surf our brains out. I believe we were the first modern surfers they had ever seen. There were over 200 surf clubs in Australia at the time and I am told most of the young members got rid of their old hollow boards within a year of our arrival and thus began an Australian domination of the sport.

 

 When our team had to move to Melbourne I remember surfing at a beach on fairly small waves. It was on Sunday. NO Olympic competitions were held on Sunday. I was just doing a bunch of surfing that most Californians could do such as turning into the curl and back then nose riding. At end of my surfing session I rode toward a rock jetty and then straightened out just o get ashore and go home. I was greeted by and old time 40's reporter with  hat and old mictophone to match. It turns out that over 70,000 people had gathered on the beach to watch us. Ampol Petrolium filmed surfing and put my moves to music. When showed in Hermasa later I was laughed at for some time later. I am have been told recently that some of future Australian surfing champs still remember me. Glad to help

 

'60 I played on the USA World cup team in Rio De Janerio. A guy working for the local water dept. turned the wrong valve and we contracted extreme diarhea.

 

Two of our players had to be wheeled up to the court because they could barely walk. One of our coaches said that O'Hara could s%&* through a screen and never touch a wire.

 

'63 I fell in love with Patti Lucas and we both played for the USA Pan American team in Sau Palo.

 

'64 member of the first Olympic team for volleyball played in Tokyo

 

'68 member of the Olympic VB team in Mexico City where we defeated the eventual gold medalists, the Soviet Union.

 

'72 I was selected to the olympic team but we were illiminated in a five game match by the eventual Gold medalists.

 

Jumping Forward with Coach and Olympian, Mike Bright

 In the sixties the NBA only had around ten teams and so at least in California, we had some pretty good athletes to help develop the sport. As the sport became more attractive to clothing sponsors and others, organizations began throwing more and more tournaments. When I played there were only around seven or so tournaments a year. In a short time there were twenty then forty a year. They began leveling the  courts and at that time hitting on the beach changed forever. In my day no one believed that a one man block could be anything but a waste of energy as these guys could shoot around you easily. My partner O'Hara and I began playing around with block and fake blocking. The fake block worked well because the hitter had to jump straight up to hit and couldn't see the defense. When the courts became level we figured out that simply jumping forward at the ball to hit gave you, not only a subliminal glimpse of the defense, but because of the forward motion of your body you can hit higher and deeper.

 

 

 
 

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