East Beach volleyball court to be named in Kiraly’s honor

Santa Barbara volleyball legend Karch Kiraly will have a court at East Beach named in his honor, the Friends of East Beach Association announced.

The Karch Kiraly court dedication is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 21 at 11 a.m.

Karch Kiraly learned the game of volleyball at East Beach.

Karch Kiraly learned the game of volleyball at East Beach.

Kiraly learned the game on the East Beach courts and went on to become one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. He’s the all-time winningest pro beach player with 148 tournament titles and he won the first Olympic Games gold medal in beach volleyball at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, adding to the two indoor golds he won with Team USA in 1984 and 1988.

Kiraly started playing beach volleyball with his father, Dr. Laszlo Kiraly, at the age of 6. He played in his first tournament with his father at age 11 and earned his A and AA ratings at 15. He won his AAA at 17. When he was playing at East Beach, he and partner and Santa Barbara High teammate John Hanley would hold the challenge court all day.

After winning a CIF title at Santa Barbara High, Kiraly moved on to UCLA, where he won three NCAA championships. Nest was back-to-bac Olympics titles in Los Angeles and Seoul, South Korea.

Kiraly has taken his volleyball success into coaching with the U.S. Women’s National Team. Last year, he guided the Americans to a World Championship. His sights are now set on the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The Friends of East Beach expressed their excitement of honoring Kiraly in the following statement: “His career of hard work, humility, and competitive success are a source of deep pride for us all, and will be celebrated on this court in the decades to come.”

The Karch Kiraly Court will be the third court dedicated at East Beach, joining those named in honor of the late Henry Bergmann and the team of Kathy Gregory and Kathy Hanley.