Class of 1992Active: 1962 - 1978
62 Open Victories
Intense, powerful, driven, focused, dedicated. All adjectives that perfectly describe the legendary Ron Von Hagen. Von Hagen is truly the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig of beach volleyball combined. The benchmark by which all beach players must be measured. You know you’ve set the standard when Karch Kiraly models his approach to the game after you.
Von Hagen was a multi-sport star at Harvard Academy in Los Angeles, but didn’t discover volleyball until his senior year at UCLA. Once he found the sport he loved, Von Hagen attacked it was a single-minded devotion that hasn’t been seen since. Von Hagen won his first Open at Laguna Beach in 1964. From 1964 to 1978 he played in around 120 tournaments and won 62 of them. Think about that for a second. He won half of every single tournament he entered. No other modern male beach athlete has come close to that winning percentage and you can pretty much bank on it that no one will in the future.
Von Hagen is a testament to the power of focus. There were probably better players at each of the skills than Von Hagen: better hitters like Bergman and Chamales, better defenders like Menges. But no one came close to Von Hagen’s mental focus, drive, and sheer will to win. He was ahead of his time in his dedication to training and nutrition and preparing himself physically to compete. And remember, he played in the days of side-out scoring and endless matches that exacted every ounce of energy.
And what about that body? If he were playing today, someone would drag him in front of a Grand Jury and cross-examine him on his use of HGH and the clear and the cream. But he played in the pre-steriod era – he earned that body the old-fashioned way – though hard work.
Von Hagen has five plaques on the Manhattan Beach pier and won tournaments at every single beach in California, including four right here in Hermosa. But probably his most amazing statistic is the amount of prize money he won for all those victories: a grand total of $625. Von Hagen passion wasn’t about money and wasn’t about fame. He truly played for the love of the game and for the rewards that come from self-sacrifice and dedication to excellence.
Vince Lombardi once said that “the quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor." By that standard, the quality of Von Hagen’s life has few peers.