WeissCrax: Karch fits in perfectly with Round Table

Sports have a way of bringing people together. Old people. Young ones. People from all walks of life.

The Santa Barbara Athletic Roundtable is like that too. They’ve been bringing people together for 40 years every Monday at their weekly Press Luncheon at Harry’s Plaza. Other venues too. Their focus is celebrating young athletes – great ones, good ones and the ones who lead with character, spirit and even those who overcome challenges, like Special Olympians. They celebrate everybody!

EDITOR’S NOTE: With this inaugural piece, Randy Weiss realizes a childhood dream of being a sports columnist. Mr. Weiss, a well-known guy in the community, will be contributing on a regular basis with community stories connected to the local sporting world……

They did it again last night. At their Fall Classic venue at the University Club. About 80 people turned out — people from Larry “Mr. Santa Barbara” Crandell to local high school volleyball teams, like the DPHS Varsity girls team. All were there to hear Karch Kiraly and for a look inside the heart of a champion.

Karch started playing volleyball at East Beach at the ripe old age of six.  His dad, Lazlo, took him when he played. And over the years, Karch honed his skills. And when he attended Santa Barbara High School years ago, he turned them into a volleyball powerhouse. He even attended some SBART luncheons back then!

Karch went on to UCLA, then ranked #19 in the NCAA. With a lot of hard work, UCLA moved up to #1 and became National Champs. He had an incredible run afterwards too – a three-time USA Olympic Volleyball Champion and a decorated pro career.  He and his partner once won 13 beach volleyball tournaments in a row – a record at the time. Reigning USA Olympic Gold Medalists in beach volleyball, Kerri Walsh and Misty May smashed that record by later winning 19 consecutive tournaments.

So, when Karch spoke about dedication, commitment and heart, everyone listened. It was a great reminder that getting what you want out of life isn’t always easy. As example, his daily conditioning college workouts were the equivalent to running to the top of the Empire State Building. Twice!

Hard work helped make Karch the “No. 1 volleyball player in the first 50 years of the sport.”

Throughout it all, he remains a humble guy, who remembers his roots. He even brought his parents and his sister along to his talk.  He is still very much “local” and with an inspirational lesson for all – the young and the old.

And the SBART made it all possible – individually and collectively, they are also local legends who lead the way with heart, dedication and commitment in celebrating all local kids – our leaders and our champions of tomorrow.