Class of 1997Active: 1971 - 1982
29 Open Victories
1975. Gerald Ford was in the White House. Jaws was the number one movie. Ali beat Frazier in the “Thriller in Manilla.” And in our little world of beach volleyball Greg Lee and Jim Menges had a season that to this day set the benchmark for excellence. Lee and Menges played in ten tournaments in 1975, made the finals in all of them, and won nine. For those of you who are math-challenged, Lee batted .900 that season. Not bad.
From 1973 to 1982 Lee-Menges played in 30 tournaments, winning 25, finishing second three times and third twice. They were, unquestionably, one of the handful of truly great teams in our sport.
He was born Gregory Scott Lee in Reseda, California and was a standout basketball player in high school. Greg played basketball for John Wooden at UCLA from 1971 to 1974, where he was a three-year starter at guard and won two National Championships. His UCLA teams won 88 straight games by an average of 30 points! He was drafted by both the NBA and the ABA and had stints with the Portland Trailblazers as well as professional teams overseas.
Greg is one of the few players, along with Mike Whitmarsh, who had no real indoor volleyball background at all. He was introduced to the beach game by his older brother Jon and learned at the feet of the masters at Sorrento.
In many ways, Greg was the poster child for the 1970s volleyball player. Pulling up to tournaments in his V.W. van after an all-night Grateful Dead concert. The long flowing hair and the bandana headband. He embodied the quirky, slightly counter-culture vibe of that era.
While Greg was listed at 6’ 3”, he had seriously long arms and played much taller than his height. He was one of the most rangy hitters on the beach and also had some of the best hands around, delivering sweet sauce to Mingo on a routine basis. In fact, to this day some say that it was Greg Lee who pushed hard to tighten up the setting calls back then because he knew that with his hands he would rarely be called while others would be forced to bump set.
Ironically, if he weren’t such a great athlete, Greg Lee would have won a whole lot more tournaments. Beach volleyball overlapped with his pursuit of a professional basketball career. Had he been dedicated solely to beach volleyball, it’s hard to imagine how many victories he would have had.
But in the time he did dedicate to the beach, including that magical year in 1975, there was no one better.