Nina Matthies 

Class of 1994
Active: 1972 - 1992
44 Open Victories

 

Anyone wanting a glimpse of where the sport of beach volleyball was headed at any point over the past 40 years need only observe one player—Nina Matthies. From her early days as a standout indoor and beach player to her current three-decades long tenure as a highly decorated dual-sport coach, Nina has always managed to stay ahead of the times.

Growing up in an era when girls' sports didn't exist in public schools, Nina's only opportunity to play for her high school came in her senior year. Alas, she was already training for the 1971 Pan-Am Games with the U.S. National Team and competing against the world's best. Next, Nina took her awe-inspiring jump, relentless focus and powerful right arm to UCLA, where she led the Bruins to consecutive national championships, became one of UCLA's top 25 players of all time and had her number retired.

Nina had already gained notoriety in local beach circles when, at the tender age of 13, she was playing mixed doubles against some of the strongest male hitters of the day. At 14, she played her first women's open at Marine Street. Under the tutelage of Charlie Saikley, Nina developed a foundation for learning and teaching the game as well as a deep appreciation for family and the beach that others may have taken for granted.

Matthies' pioneered professional women's volleyball both on the hard court and in the sand, winning her first beach open in 1973 while also competing as a pro indoors. Already known for her incredible physicality and fierce will to win, Nina was the first woman's player to add weight training to her workout regimen and was also the first to return to the winner's podium after having children. Over a career that spanned 139 events, she totaled 44 Open wins, 93 top three finishes and the admiration of those she played with and against. “Everyone respected her. She set the bar so high and was the embodiment of professionalism,” avowed long-time partner Linda Robertson Hanley with whom Nina won 30 events.

But Nina's impact on her sport extends far beyond her impressive professional record. She was the most important organizer of the Women's Professional Volleyball Association (WPVA), the sole destination for top women's players from 1986 to 1997 and a vital antecedent to modern professional tours. And while 30 years at the helm of Pepperdine's women's indoor team would be time to call it a career for even the most dedicated of head coaches, Nina instead used her stature and influence to help spearhead the addition of sand volleyball to the college ranks as chair of the AVCA Sand Volleyball Head Coaches Committee. Not only has it become the fastest growing emerging sport for women, it was Nina's Waves who brought home the inaugural AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championship to Malibu in 2012. It was a fitting accomplishment for the forward-leaning Matthies whose astounding resume as a player and coach is eclipsed only by the opportunities she's created for countless players fortunate enough to follow in her footsteps.

written by:: Brian Meckna

 

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