Class of 2022
Jon Lee’s place in the history of volleyball puts him in his own special category. To call him an invaluable contributor, even one with an overdue Hall of Fame label, seems woefully inadequate. You can’t just call Karch Kiraly a great. You have to dig deeper. The same applies to Jon.
He has been a trailblazer. A leader. An undeniable difference maker to three generations of players.
His journey has touched tens of thousands worldwide — player, coach, journalist, ref, announcer, ambassador and a legendary storyteller. If you attempt to print Jon Lee’s accomplishments for posterity be prepared to encounter the “load more paper” warning.
His career has checked an unparalleled number of boxes with his own special flare, including:
• Top level indoor player at UC Santa Barbara where he was a three-time all-American and an integral part of the 1969 national championship team.
• AAA rated beach player for more than a decade where he partnered with his brother Greg, Karch Kiraly, John Hanley, Chris Marlowe, Don Shaw and many more luminaries.
• Original volleyball announcer for ESPN.
• Member of the Santa Barbara Spikers of the International Volleyball Association. He also played professionally in Spain.
• Championship high school coach at San Marcos (boys and girls teams) for 23 years (46 seasons) where he mentored Olympic gold medalist Todd Rogers as well as Dax Holdren and countless other beach stars. More than 50 of his former players went on to become volleyball coaches and San Marcos High recognized his impact by naming the floor Jon Lee Court during the construction of its new gym in 2009.
• Gifted wordsmith and editor for Volleyball Monthly, DiG and Volleyball Magazines.
• AVP Tour referee.
• Organizer of one of the most successful and longest running summer beach volleyball camps at East Beach where he employed a bevy of future beach stars and mentored thousands of teens about the proper passing platform, but it it was his life counsel that often proved more invaluable to the campers.
• Volunteer international ambassador for the sport teaching the game to children in Africa and elsewhere around the globe.
• Multiple national masters champion and the voice of the Motherlode Tournament in Aspen, Colorado, where he entertained the crowd with a combination of wit and expertise.
• Unofficial creator of the “knuckle pokey” which lengthened his playing career and buckled the knees of his frustrated opponents.
Even with the depth of his impact around the globe, Jon’s most important contribution was at his home in Santa Barbara with his commitment to his family. He instilled a mutual love of sports and education to everybody close to him. He credits his father, Marvin, a former UCLA basketball player and his sons’ high school coach, for instilling the necessary character and toughness to succeed in both the classroom and court.
Jon loves to regale about using his elbows to toughen up his late brother Greg in bloody backyard hoop games to help make his younger sibling a collegiate basketball superstar and one of the greatest beach players of all time. Fortunately, his wife Lynette, daughter Solana (scholarship volleyball player at Temple) son Jansen and granddaughter Ruby were generous enough to share their remarkable husband, father and grandfather with the volleyball world for more than 50 years. The sport is much better for it.