1928-1987 WOMEN'S ALL-ERA BEACH PLAYERS
Nina Grouwinkel Matthies - Matthies, one of the best beach volleyball players of her time, won 43 tournaments during her legendary career with a variety of partners but enjoyed a majority of her success with Linda Hanley. Together, Matthies and Hanley earned 30 tournament titles to rank No. 1 on the all-time team victory list along with Brazil's Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede. For her career, Matthies played in 139 events with 43 championships, 26 runner-up finishes and 24 third-place results. The 43 titles place Matthies seventh on the all-time individual wins list. She was a force off the sand as well. Matthies spearheaded a successful effort in the mid-1980's to create the Women's Professional Volleyball Association (WPVA)-an organization which laid the foundation for the dramatically enhanced national visibility of the women's beach tour. Matthies was inducted into the WPVA's "Hall of Fame" in 1995 and was honored as one of the "20 Legends of Beach Volleyball" in a ceremony at UCLA in 1997. Matthies, a former member of the USA women's national team, is currently in her 21st year as the head coach of the Pepperdine women's volleyball program.
Jean Brunicardi - In 1956 Brunicardi started playing beach volleyball in Santa Monica, Calif., where she was tutored by Manny Saenz to become the first "beach queen" of beach volleyball. Brunicardi played outstanding defense, had the ability to read her opponent's shots like no other player and she moved through the sand with unmatched effectiveness. Her stamina was also unmatched by any of her opponents. Brunicardi was successful with nearly all of her partners. When Brunicardi paired-up with Johnette Latreille, they formed one of the most successful female duos ever. They won virtually every pick-up game and tournament that they were involved in together. In 1974, prior to the State Beach Women's Open, the 42-year-old Brunicardi was approached by 14-year-old Nancy Cohen to play with her. This was to be Cohen's first-ever open tournament. In the championship match, Brunicardi and Cohen defeated Barbara (Grubb) May and Eileen Clancy to become both the oldest and the youngest players to ever win an open women's doubles tournament.
Eileen Clancy - Clancy starred in the sand at an early age, teaming up with Butch May to dominate the mixed-doubles scene when she was only 12-years-old. The tandem played-and won-together for 10 years. In 1995, Clancy was inducted into the California Beach Volleyball Hall of Fame.
Kathy Gregory - The number speaks for itself. With 49 career victories in the sand, Gregory ranks fourth in overall wins and is tied for second in domestic wins. She enjoyed most of her success with a trio of partners. Gregory, who embarked on a beach career in the 1960s, earned 14 tournament wins with Miki McFadden, 13 victories with Nancy Cohen and 12 "W's" with Kathy Hanley. She also captured half-a-dozen titles with Janice Harrer. On the court Gregory was a talkative dynamo who would interact with the beach crowd as well as her opponents. After being awarded Women's Beach Tournament Player of the Year honors in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1981 and 1983, Gregory was crowned "Queen of the Beach." Gregory excelled at the indoor game as well. A former member of the USA national team and the recipient of numerous All-America honors, she became only the third woman to be inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in 1989. Earlier this year, she was selected to the USA Volleyball 75th Anniversary Women's (1949-77) All-Era Team. Since 1975 Gregory has been the highly successful head coach of the UC Santa Barbara women's volleyball program. She was named National Coach of the Year in 1993 and began the 2003 season ranked sixth all-time in NCAA Division I victories.
Johnette Latreille - In 1955 Latreille showed up at Sorrento Beach and noticed a group of people playing "doubles beach volleyball." She decided to see if she could play. Eventually, Latreille met her future husband, Dave Heiser, who was instrumental in her increased involvement with the beach game. While she was still learning the game, Heiser taught her many good basics of the game and helped her move from the Sorrento Beach "D" court to "C" and eventually up to the "B" court. Later on in her career, Latreille was coached by Bernie Holtzman and then Gene Selznick. She went on to become one of the best women's beach players of her era. Teamed with Jean Brunicardi, Latreille was one-half of the top women's team of the late 1950's and early 1960's. Latreille was also a top mixed-double's player on the beach and an accomplished indoor player. She played on four-straight national championship teams (1963-66) and earned honorable mention All-America honors twice.
Mary Jo Peppler - Peppler is acclaimed for helping to establish women's volleyball in the United States. At 6-foot-1 and 125 pounds, the southpaw also probably had the greatest physical talent of any women's player (beach or indoor) during her time. Her success at the indoor game has been well documented. Peppler, a 1964 Olympian, earned numerous All-America honors and played on numerous national championship teams. She was inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in 1990 and honored as a member of the USA Volleyball 75th Anniversary Women's (1949-77) All-Era Team earlier this year. But Peppler had a successful career on the beach playing with various partners. She was also an outstanding coach who was known as an innovator, visionary and crusader. Peppler later coached one of the top women's beach volleyball teams of all time when she coached Karolyn Kirby and Liz Masakayan.
Jane Ward - Ward did not discriminate; she excelled at both beach and indoor volleyball. Ward was a force to be reckoned with outdoors in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In recognition of her talents with the indoor game, Ward was inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in 1988 and honored as the Most Valuable Player and one of three coaches of USA Volleyball's 75th Anniversary Women's (1949-77) All-Era Team earlier this year.
Norma Weir - Weir was one of the top players of her generation during the 1950s. She partnered with Lois Haraughty and later Jean Gaertner to win a number of early tournaments, including the Women's "AAA" Tournament in Santa Monica in 1950, the Pacific Coast Championship in Santa Barbara in 1957 and the Sorrento Beach Women's Open in Santa Monica in 1958. To see a full release, visit: usavolleyball.org