Michael O'Hara competing in USA Volleyball National Championships
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Feb. 6, 2018) – USA Volleyball is saddened to learn of the passing of indoor and beach volleyball legend Michael O’Hara on Feb. 1.
O’Hara, 85, was inducted into the International Volleyball Hall of Fame as part of the 1989 class. His international indoor career was highlighted by competing in 1964 Olympic Games, the first-ever Games with indoor volleyball. O’Hara helped the U.S. win the 1959 Pan American Games and later silver at the 1963 Pan American Games leading up to the Olympics.
O’Hara, who was selected to USA Volleyball’s Diamond Anniversary All-Era Team, won six Open Division titles in the USA Volleyball Open National Championships. He was chosen most valuable player of the Opens twice (1961, 1963) and was a seven-time Open Division first-team all-American. Overall, O’Hara won 12 USA Volleyball All-American awards while winning 15 USVBA Championships. By 1967, he was selected as a USA Volleyball All-Time Great Player.
O'Hara was equally impressive on the sand as one of the most outstanding players in beach volleyball history. Nicknamed “The Jumping Jack”, he won his first Open beach title in 1954. After reaching the podium with various partners in the late 1950s, he joined forces with the late Mike Bright (passed away Sept. 22, 2017) and went on to win the first five Manhattan Beach opens from 1960 to 1964. The pair won 12 Open tournament titles together. O’Hara captured 38 Open Beach Championships during his career.
After his retirement as a player, O'Hara continued to make major contributions to volleyball - as a USA Volleyball board member, as coach at Santa Monica College, a national referee, a broadcaster, and as commissioner of the International Federation of Volleyball World Series of Beach Volleyball. He served as director of sports and director of international television for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and as a consultant for the Calgary and Seoul Olympic Organizing Committee. He also assisted the Barcelona Olympic Organizing Committee with preparations for the 1992 summer games. O’Hara attended every summer Olympics through 2012, either as a player, administrator or fan of the game.
O’Hara taught business and entrepreneurship at Santa Monica College for 30 years. He helped develop the ABA and World Hockey Association. Then he helped found three sports leagues-the International Track Association, International Volleyball Association and Team Cup Volleyball.
O’Hara’s philosophy was simple: “What's important in life is not how many breaths you take. It's how many times life makes you breathless.”
O’Hara is survived by his wife Arlen, son Ryan (Victoria), daughter Kelley (Bill), three grandchildren (Spencer, Josie, Michael) and many relatives.