Janice Opalinski Harrer

Class of 2012
Active: 1983 - 1999
25 Open Victories


Class. Integrity. Honor. Let’s be honest, we don’t always associate these words with beach volleyball players. There were plenty of colorful characters back in the day, but you probably wouldn’t trust all of them with your life savings or want them to date your son or daughter. Janice was one of the exceptions. A truly good person and universally respected by both her partners and her competitors.

Janice was a mainstay on the professional tour for almost twenty years. She won in her first season in 1983 at Doheny Beach and would go on to win 25 tournaments and finish in the top five 137 times. She was a graduate of Dana Hills High School and UC-Irvine, where she competed in both volleyball and track.

Early in her career, Janice had a great partnership with the legendary Kathy Gregory, with whom she won 6 tournaments. But Janice was able to win with a variety of partners including Mary Diamond, Jill Durkee, Linda Chisholm, Jackie Silva, Lisa Strand, and Nancy Reno.

She was known for her intensity and focus on the court. You just couldn’t rattle Janice. And when she played with Kathy Gregory she needed all of that focus to block out the constant chatter.

Janice was one of the best defensive players of her era, back when there was a lot of court to cover and the side-out tournaments could sap the energy of the best athletes. She won the best defensive player award on tour on multiple occasions.

”I’m very flattered to be selected and feel Hermosa Beach is a fitting place for the Hall of Fame,” Harrer said. “I have many fond memories of playing and training in the South Bay. I feel so privileged to play for so many years and this is a wonderful way to cap off a 15-year career.”

Although Harrer won most of her titles domestically, it was a tournament in Tokyo, Japan, that she considers the fondest memory during her successful career. It came in the summer of 1990 when she and partner Lisa Stand defeated future Hall of Famer Nina Matthies and Elaine Roque in the championship match of the Salem Fresh Tokyo Open. The duo was playing the tournament in tribute to Judy Bellomo, a fellow player who died earlier in the year at the age of 23 after a rare genetic reaction to anesthesia during a routine operation for thyroid cancer.

“Lisa and I were not favored in the tournament and Lisa had eaten something bad and was going to the port-a-potties every fifteen minutes,” Harrer recalled. “But we fought with all our heart. We were playing in downtown Tokyo and under lights for the first time. After we won and were standing on the podium, we were given mink coats and they put pearls around our necks. The tournament also had the leading prize money.” Harrer and Strand split the $16,000 winner’s share of the purse.