Class of 2018Active: 1997 - 2012
16 Open Victories
The state of Hawaii legal code actually includes a definition for the term Aloha Spirit: "the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the self. Each person must think and emote good feelings to others in the contemplation and presence of the life force."
Though there have been many great beach volleyball players from Hawaii, nobody captured the Aloha Spirit better than Mike Lambert.
Lambert was born in Kaneohe, Hawaii and grew up alongside sisters Mia and Debbie, both of whom were exceptional volleyball players. He crossed the Pacific to attend Stanford University where he was a three-time all American, leading the Cardinal to their first and only NCAAA Championships in 1997.
Before transitioning to the beach, Lambert was a member of the indoor U.S. National Team for five seasons and an Olympian in 1996 and 2000. He also played professionally in Italy for four years.
He made an immediate impact when he hit the sand, quickly becoming one of the dominant big men on tour and named the 2002 Rookie of the Year. 2004 was Lambert’s breakout year when he partnered with Karch Kiraly to win four tournaments, including the Manhattan Open and was awarded both the AVP Most Valuable Player and Best Offensive Player. He and Karch were also named AVP Team of the Year.
Lambert would go on to win 16 tournaments in his relatively short career, including nine with fellow Hawaiian and good friend Stein Metzger and tournaments with John Hyden and Eric Fonoimoana. Lambert also won the 2005 King of the Beach tournament in Las Vegas. In that same year, Lambert played alongside Karch when the legend captured the last of his 148 victories.
As his nickname the “Hawaiian Curtain” suggests, Lambert was the dominant blocker of his era. His long reach, ability to read attackers, and his impeccable timing made it virtually impossible effectively attach his block. He was also a dominant offensive player, smooth on serve receive and an underrated setter.
While fiercely competitive, Lambert exuded a laid back style off the court. He was a favorite of both fans and his fellow tour professionals, often bringing his guitar to the beach to play songs in-between matches and charming with an infectious smile. You would have to search far and wide to find someone with anything bad to say about Mike Lambert.
Since retirement, Mike continues to share his Aloha Spirit with his wife and kids and with his guitar playing and with that smile.
If Lambert had played perhaps 10 years earlier, when the AVP tour was on more solid financial footing, there is no question he would have many, many more victories. But as it was, the sport was lucky to witness his greatness on the court and his friendship off the court.
A Hall of Famer in every respect.