Mike Dodd, Karch Kiraly, Kent Steffes, and Mike Whitmarsh
35″ x 16″ Signed 1997 in Belmar, NJ
Michael (“Mike”) Dodd (born August 20, 1957 in Manhattan Beach, California) is a well-known retired professional beach volleyball player from the United States who attended San Diego State University. With his partner Mike Whitmarsh he won the silver medal in the men’s inaugural beach volleyball tournament at the 1996 Summer Olympics. Since winning silver in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, he has worked the Olympic Games of 2000 as a beach analyst and 2004 as an indoor analyst for NBC. In 2008 Dodd coached AVP stars Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal in the Beijing Olympics. Dodd also captained Team USA to a win over Brazil’s best players in the inaugural AVP World Challenge in 2009.
Born and raised in Manhattan Beach, Dodd won five Manhattan Beach Open titles. In 2009 he became the first person to coach the men’s and women’s champions of the same Manhattan Beach Open (Gibb and Rosenthal and Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs). Dodd was named AVP Sportsman of the Year in 1994 and 1996 and AVP Most Inspirational Player three times in a row from 1995-1997. Since earning his AAA volleyball rating at age 15, Dodd has represented the U.S. National Team and played professionally in Italy in addition to his AVP career as a player and coach. He is in the California Beach Volleyball Association Hall of Fame.
Mike Dodd currently serves as Commissioner of the AVP. He oversees all competition, athlete welfare and sport development. One of beach volleyball’s all-time greats, Dodd won 75 titles in his illustrious 18-year career and a silver medal in the first Olympics to feature beach volleyball.
Volleyball legend and three-time Gold Medalist, Karch Kiraly is synonymous with the sport of Pro Beach Volleyball. Clearly the ‘winningest’ player in the history of the sport, Karch has earned more than three million dollars playing beach volleyball and has become one of the most recognized sports figures today.
At age 46, Kiraly is considered the “Michael Jordan” of pro beach volleyball as he is the oldest player to compete in the sport and continues to perform at the highest level — beating competitors literally half his age. He has won at least one tournament in 24 of the 28 seasons he has played, spanning four different decades. He has claimed a title in 24 different states with 13 different partners. In domestic events, he has finished lower than ninth place only four times and has been in the semifinals over 80% of the time.
Karch Kiraly and partner Mike Lambert were named 2004 AVP Team of the Year after capturing three titles, then won in Huntington Beach in 2005 to give him win number 148. Kiraly finished the 2005 season ranked fourth on the Tour in both kills (1,243) and digs (805).
Kiraly is the only volleyball player in Olympic history to win three Gold medals, having been part of the United States’ Gold Medal indoor teams in 1984 and 1988, and winning the Gold Medal in beach volleyball at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games with Kent Steffes.
In 1992, Kiraly was inducted into the UCLA Hall of Fame and had his jersey retired after an All-American volleyball career with the Bruins. While in school, he led his team to three NCAA Championships (1979, 1981 and 1982) and earned All-American honors all four years. In his four years, the Bruins compiled a 123-5 match record, with undefeated seasons in both 1979 and 1982.
Kiraly grew up in Santa Barbara and learned the sport of beach volleyball from his father, Dr. Laszlo Kiraly. He graduated from high school third in his class with a 3.96 grade-point average.
Throughout his career, Kiraly has earned countless accolades including: AVP Best Defensive Player (2002), AVP Best Offensive Player (1990, 1993, 1994), AVP Comeback Player of the Year (1997), AVP Most Valuable Player (1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998), AVP Sportsman of the Year (1995, 1997, 1998) and most recently AVP Outstanding Achievement (2004). The FIVB has named Kiraly “Best Player in the World” twice, in 1986 and 1988. He was inducted into the 2005 AVCA Hall of Fame Class.
Kiraly currently resides in San Clemente, California with his wife Janna and his two sons Kristian and Kory.
Kent Steffes (born June 23, 1968 in Ann Arbor, Michigan) is an American beach volleyball player. He was a gold medalist in the 1996 Summer Olympics along with Karch Kiraly. A graduate of Palisades High School in Pacific Palisades, CA, he latter attended Stanford, and transferred to UCLA graduating with a degree in Economics. In 2000 he enrolled in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford where he graduated in 2002.
Kent has a wife, Michelle Steffes, of Mount Vernon, Virginia, and two children (Katharine Jackson Steffes, born in 2004, and Conrad William Steffes, born in 2006).
Mike Whitmarsh excelled at both volleyball and basketball, but was one of the rare beach volleyballers who did not grow up playing the sport. He first attended college at Grossmont College and later at the University of San Diego, where he starred on the basketball team, majoring in political science with a minor in business. Whitmarsh was drafted in the fifth round of the NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blaxers in 1984, although he never played in the NBA. He did play professional basketball in Germany for three years. On his return to the States he turned to beach volleyball and made the inaugural US Olympic team in that sport in 1996. He was a leader on the new AVP tour and won 28 pro tournaments in beach volleyball, and slightly over $1.6 million in his career in that sport. He won titles with five different partners, but most of them (16) with Mike Dodd, with whom he won the silver medal in Atlanta. Whitmarsh was AVP Rookie-of-the-Year in 1990, in 2003 was awarded the AVP Special Achievement and Role Model Awards, and in 2004 was given their Lifetime Achievement Award. Whitmarsh committed suicide in a friend’s house by inhaling carbon monoxide from a car exhaust.