Class of 2014Active: 1984 - 2010
20 Open Victories
Barbra Fontana's long and successful career testifies to the characteristics that make a great beach player: hard work, perseverance, and impeccable all-around volleyball skills.
Born and raised in Manhattan Beach, Barbara graduated from the volleyball factory that is Mira Costa, and led her teams to both CIF and National Championships. She went on to be a four-year starter at Stanford where her teams made it to the Final Four each of those years. At 5' 6" she was almost always the smallest hitter on the court, but with an explosive jump and arm swing, she went toe-to-toe with opponents a full head taller.
Fontana's professional beach career spanned over 25 years and she played in an astonishing 301 professional tournaments, second all-time. To put that in perspective, during her career, we changed Presidents five times, bathing suit styles changed at least 6 or 7 times, and the rules of beach volleyball changed at least twenty times. Barbra graduated from law school, passed the bar, actively practiced law, got married, and had two kids all while competing full time on the professional tour.
During her 25 years as a professional, she won 20 domestic and international events and finished in the top five 184 times. She partnered with many of the best players of her generation, beginning with beach volleyball legend and high school classmate Holly McPeak. She enjoyed the longest and most successful partnerships with Dianna DeNocochea, Lori Forsythe, Linda Hanley, and Lisa Arce, but also found success with Carrie Dodd, Elaine Youngs, Jennifer Kessy, Deb Richardson, Jenny Kropp and Elaine Youngs, among others.
Barbara was a prototype defender. She was a quick as they come and could cover as much court as any player on tour. She was also a pinpoint passer and precise bump setter with pretty much flawless ball control. Opponents would often look at her height and assumed that the one area they could exploit was her offense. They assumed wrong. Barbra possessed one of the best jumps on the beach and would punish anyone who underestimated her attacking skills.
Having grown up on the sands of Manhattan, Barbra's greatest victory came at the 2001 Manhattan Open were she beat Lisa Arce and Holly McPeak in the finals to have her name inscribed on the pier.
But her proudest moment came in 1996 when she and partner Linda Hanley represented the United States at the Atlanta Olympics and became part of history as a member of the first U.S. Beach Volleyball Olympic Team.
After retirement, Barbra continues to be actively involved in the sport, coaching both professionals and the next generation of young players.
Barbra Fontana is proof that you don't have to be the tallest player on the court to be a Hall of Famer.