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.