Class of 2003Active: 1977 - 1993
21 Open Victories
There have been few beach volleyball players as compelling to watch as Andy Fishburn. With his All-American good looks and his singular style of play, Fishburn was always a crowd pleaser. He perfected a style uniquely his own, characterized by quick bursts of movement, a no-look, wrist-away line attack, and his legendary patented backhanded flipper. He played the game with uncommon style and flair.
Educated at Yale and Stanford, Andy was something of an anomaly in the beach volleyball world. He was one of the few players with a full-time job, working long hours in a high-powered finance job during the week while traveling to compete on the weekends. With a wife and young kids at home, Andy usually skipped the post-tournament shenanigans so common back in the day.
But while he wasn’t on the party circuit, Andy still typically arrived home late on Sundays because he was almost always in the hunt. Fishburn ended his career with 101 top five finishes including 21 victories. But it is perhaps a second place finish that is the most memorable. In 1979, Andy and long-time partner Dane Selznick suffered a rare first-round loss in the World Championships in Redondo Beach. The tournament had 96 teams, and Fishburn and Selznick were forced to claw their way through a brutally long loser’s bracket. In the finals of the loser’s the pair eked out a close victory over Obradovich and Hooper setting up a finals against the heavily favored Karch Kiraly and Sinjin Smith. Despite having played 11 straight matches over two days, Fishburn and Selznick won the first two-out-of-three match forcing a double finals. In virtual darkness, they battled the best team in the world down to the wire, eventually falling 18-16. It still stands as one of the best matches in history, a testament to Fishburn’s grit and determination.
While Fishburn had his greatest success and longest partnership with Selznick, he began his career playing with the legendary Fred Sturm, winning tournaments with Sturm at Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara and playing in the finals of the Manhattan Open in 1978. And following his partnership with Selznick, with whom he won 13 tournaments, Fishburn enjoyed great success with Jay Hanseth, including a memorable victory in the 1985 Jose Cuervo Tournament in Santa Cruz.
Fishburn excelled at all aspects of the game. He could hit with power and finesse, he played great defense and was also an effective blocker, particularly in the years before blocking over. He also had a beautiful setting touch and was one of the few players who continued to hand set when the calls got increasingly tight in the late 70s and early 80s. But it was as much style as skill that made Fishburn so unique. He was, simply, just fun to watch play the game of beach volleyball.
After retirement, Andy continued his successful business career and raised two kids: Michael and Jessica, who went on to play volleyball at Stanford. And for many years, Andy continued to dominate the courts at his beloved Beach Club in Santa Monica.