Class of 2023
To beach volleyball fans, Sam Laganà's voice sounded like summer. Hearing him introduce Tim Hovland or Sinjin Smith at the beginning of a tournament season in his bright, booming style was like hearing the bell ring to end the last day of school in June. Good times were here!
Laganà was the voice of beach volleyball and the Association of Volleyball Professional's (AVP) from 1985- 2005, but he really was an MC of the party that was beach volleyball in the 1980s and ‘90s, his sunny voice marking and fueling the sport's rise and reach outside California, from Cape Cod to Florida, Rhode Island to Texas, Cleveland to Colorado, and points in between and beyond.
Whether he was orchestrating the "wave" in the stands (forward or in reverse), revving up a crowd of 20,000, driving a "taste great - less filling" competitive chant or cueing music and introducing the dancing referee Marvin Hall, Laganà made the weekend more fun and the fans feel like participants. To Laganà, the fans and the local community were essential parts of the event -- whether it took place in the shadow of the Manhattan Beach Pier or in a K-Mart parking lot in Louisiana -- and nothing mattered more than bringing them together.
Laganà fell in love with the beach and volleyball as a boy. Raised in Pacific Palisades on the bluffs above historic Will Rogers State Beach, he walked down to enjoy the sand and surf and watch greats like Gene Selznick, Ron Von Hagen and Ron Lang. Later as a student-athlete at Palisades High, a back injury forced Laganà off the court but led him to the microphone. He announced games at Palisades and then during college at Loyola Marymount University, where he studied image management and business and promoted the school's athletics.
Laganà joined the AVP in 1985 helping with promotions and public relations for the upstart organization. In the mid ‘80s, he worked in AVP management and promoted the tour nationally with mega partners NBC, Miller Brewing and Jose Cuervo, driving public relations campaigns and creating promotional events before tournaments where local fans could meet players, enjoy sponsors' beverages and sometimes even dance with referees.
Laganà, the "Jaws of the Beach", traveled California and the world for nearly 20 years, announcing men's and women's beach volleyball on every level from CBVA tournaments to World Championships, from stops on small islands to firing up crowds from Manhattan Beach to Madison Square Garden often reminding fans and players they were "living a day out of their wildest dreams" with this "Big Time Volleyball" and that what they witnessed was "Undenied Worldwide.
Laganà‘s voice still resonates. Today fans can hear Sam at Los Angeles Rams football games, where he became the stadium announcer and host in 2016. You might drift away and envision Smith, Hovland, Liz Masakayan, Linda Chisholm, Karch Kiraly or Jose Loiola springing up and trotting out to the net to start a Manhattan Beach, San Diego, or Hermosa Beach final, your warm memories of carefree summers washing back in like the tide. That's the place Sam Laganà has in the hearts of beach volleyball fans, and always will. It's undenied, worldwide.