Three members of the Sato family, whose achievements in the sport of volleyball include Olympic medals as either a coach or athlete, have been named to the Santa Monica College Sports Hall of Fame.
Gary, Liane, and Eric Sato will be inducted into the 2010 SMC Sports Hall of Fame class during a private ceremony Thursday, March 31.
“We are delighted to honor this legendary sports family,” said Chip Potts, interim executive director of the SMC Foundation, which sponsors the SMC Sports Hall of Fame. “It’s not every day that SMC has an opportunity to recognize athletes who begin their sports career here and go on to achieve Olympic greatness.”
The eldest Sato sibling, Gary, attended SMC in 1973-77 before heading on to become an All-American outside hitter at the University of California-Santa Barbara. A distinguished coach, he was the assistant of the 1986 World Championship and the 1987 Pan American Games teams. He then served as the head coach for the gold-medal winning team at the 1985 FIVB World Cup in Japan, where he was voted most valuable coach of the tournament.
Gary was also the assistant coach for the 1988 Olympic gold medal team in Seoul and in 1992, he coached the Olympic team that won the bronze in Barcelona. Gary took a brief break from volleyball as he received his doctorate of chiropractic degree, before rejoining the staff of the national team for the 2010 FIVB World Championships.
Sister Liane attended SMC in 2002, but played collegiate volleyball at San Diego State University. She played professional beach volleyball before joining the 1988 and 1992 USA Olympic women’s teams. Liane won the Olympic bronze medal at the 1992 games after winning a bronze in the 1990 World Championships. She currently serves as Santa Monica High School’s head volleyball coach.
The youngest sibling, Eric, was a two-time Olympic medallist and was known as the best defensive specialist in the world at the time. Beyond his Olympic success, he won gold medals at the 1986 World Championship and the 1987 Pan-Am Games, and bronze medals from the 1991 World Cup and the 1994 World Championship. Eric, a former high school and club team coach, has been recognized with multiple Coach of the Year Awards, and now runs the Sato Volleyball Academy in San Diego County.
The Satos join such sports luminaries as 1968 Olympic 200-meter track gold medallist and retired SMC professor Dr. Tommie Smith, four-time Olympic swimming gold medallist and SMC alumnus Lenny Krayzelburg, and Olympic track and field bronze medallist and SMC alumnus Johnny Gray in the Hall of Fame.