Class of 1995Active: 1958 - 1970
16 Open Victories
Perhaps no one in the beach volleyball hall of fame epitomized the beach lifestyle better than Mike Bright. A tremendous, multi-talented athlete, equally as adept on the sand, in the water, or in the gym, there was little Bright couldn’t and didn’t accomplish.
Mike Bright was born and raised in Hermosa Beach. He played basketball at Mira Costa High School and El Camino College where he was inducted into their Basketball Hall of Fame.
While in high school and college Bright found his passion in the nearby beaches and ocean. From 1958 to 1970, he played in 44 open tournaments, reaching the finals 34 times and winning 16 of those. Bright found his greatest success with Mike O’Hara with whom he claimed 25 titles, including the first five Manhattan Opens.
Mike Bright was an exceptional all-around beach player, consistent on defense, rarely making mistakes on offense, and along with O’Hara, one of the first to successfully use the block to score points.
His accomplishments were not limited to the sand. Bright represented the United States indoors at both the Tokyo and Mexico City Olympics and just missed qualifying for his third Olympics in Munich. He was also and world-class surfer and the best paddle-boarder of his era, winning the brutal Catalina-to-Manhattan Beach race several times and participating in the Melbourne Olympics in both paddling and surfing as demonstration sports.
Legend has it Bright once paddled onto the beach at the Manhattan pier after winning the Catalina race and proceeded to help his team claim the six-man volleyball title. Whether urban legend or not, it’s a testament to his athletic prowess that it’s so easy to believe he really could pull off such a feat.
Bright was also an exceptionally good person--respected, admired, and genuinely liked by teammates and competitors alike.
Following a tragic diving accident in his late 30s, Mike lost the use of his legs. This never stopped his drive or passion for life. He became an accomplished woodworker, making one-of-a-kind pieces for customers around the globe. And he remained involved with volleyball, assisting his wife, the legendary Patti Bright, as a coach at Pepperdine and later helping with his daughter Bonnie’s club volleyball teams. And he was always devoted to his five children, six grandchildren, and one great-grandchild who carry on his volleyball legacy.
In 1993, Bright was inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in Mt. Holoyke and two years later he was inducted here in the California Beach Volleyball Hall of Fame.
Toward the end of his life, there was nothing Mike liked more than to watch from his back porch as his granddaughter honed her beach volleyball skills on the court his daughter, Bonnie and her husband Dave, spent four months building in their back yard in Vista, CA.
The sport of beach volleyball lost a true legend in the passing of Mike Bright – but his indomitable spirit lives on.