Class of 2017
There have been few great moments in the history of U.S. volleyball over the last three decades where the authoritative voice of Paul Sunderland hasn’t provided the soundtrack. His deep knowledge of the game, impeccable preparation, and smooth delivery have earned him special status as a volleyball’s premier announcer.
Sunderland is being inducted today into the California Beach Volleyball Hall of Fame for his contributions to the sport as a broadcaster.
Before he took his seat behind the mic, Sunderland made his mark as a player. He grew up in Sherman Oaks, attending Notre Dame high school where he was an all-league in both football and basketball.
Paul was introduced to beach volleyball following his graduation from Notre Dame and spent that first summer watching and learning from the games greats at Sorrento Beach. Two years later Paul earned his double A with Big Daddy Don Shaw, winning at Sorrento. To this day, he remembers it as one of the highlights of his athletic career. He would pay up and down the So Cal coast including Opens in Laguna, and of course Manhattan and Hermosa. Another highlight was winning the Manhattan 6man with a couple of guys named Dodd.
After high school, he committed to play basketball at the University of Oregon. He later transferred to Loyola Marymount where he had an all-American career playing both basketball and volleyball.
Sunderland played for almost a decade on the U.S. National team, culminating in a gold medal at the ’84 Olympics in Los Angeles.
He began his broadcasting career alongside hall of famer Chris Marlowe, and the two would go on to form the best broadcasting duo in volleyball. Sunderland and Marlowe called most of the classic matches during the golden era of the AVP. And it was Sunderland and Marlowe who brought the beach into living rooms around the world when they called the action at beach volleyball’s debut at the Atlanta Olympics.
Sunderland has called the volleyball action in every Olympics either indoors on or the beach since 1992. But his expertise is not limited to volleyball. Sunderland has covered basketball, track and field and a variety of Olympic sports. In 2000, he made history by being only the second play-by-play man in Los Angeles Lakers history, replacing the legendary Chick Hearn.
Sunderland has won two Emmy’s for his work and has been inducted into the Loyola Marymount and USVBA Hall of Fames.
He broadcasts volleyball and other sports on ESPN’s Longhorn Network as well as international volleyball for NBC. And he continues to be the voice we turn to for the sport’s biggest moments.
Written by: Chris Warshaw