Class of 1995Active: 1956 - 1976
45 Open Victories
Ron Lang is the perfect bridge between our two other male Hall of Fame honorees, having been an important partner for both Selznick and Von Hagen. But to think of Ron Lang as merely Selznick’s or Von Hagen’s partner is to seriously underestimate one of the best players to ever set foot in the sand.
It is also fitting that Lang is being honored right here, as Hermosa was one of Ron’s home beaches.
Ron Lang graduated from USC. He won his first open with Dick Davis Sorrento Beach in 1956. He then hooked up with Gene Selznick and won 20 Opens. With Von Hagen, we went on to win another 28 Opens. He ranks in the top 10 all-time in victories and has five plaques on the Manhattan Pier.
Lang was also a standout indoor player. He was a member of the first ever U.S. Olympic team in 1964 and was a USVBA all-American multiple times. USA Volleyball named Lang an All-Time Great Male Player in 1982, and in 2003 he was named to the All-Era Team by USA Volleyball.
While Ron Lang was an outstanding athlete, he is testament that it is not just physical characteristics that make a great beach volleyball player. Lang possessed that something else the legends of the game have. The ability to convert a not-so-great pass into a hittable set for your partner. The ability to make a crucial dig at just the right time in a match. A great cut shot and the ability to turn the ball back down the line when needed. And, most importantly, the intangible competitiveness and focus that all great players must possess.
Lang’s stamina was legendary. Back in his day, there were no organized “workouts” among the players. You just showed up in the morning and took on all comers. If you won, you kept playing. Well, in his prime Ron would hold that winners court every day, all day, never dropping a match. Then when the weekend rolled around he would storm through a 64 person two-day, double elimination, side-out scoring tournament. Then do it all again the next week.
It’s unclear how the order of the names in the great beach volleyball partnerships get established. But it’s always Smith-Stoklos or Hovland-Dodd or Menges-Lee and never the other way around. Maybe Lang-Selznick and Lang-Von Hagen just doesn’t roll off the tongue as well as Selznick-Lang or Von Hagen-Lang. But there’s no doubt that both Selznick and Von Hagen would agree that the name Lang deserves equal, if not top billing. He is a true hall-of-famer.