(photo by Photo Courtesy Smc)

SMC — The Sato family, long synonymous with volleyball, will be inducted into the Santa Monica College Sports Hall of Fame during a private ceremony on Thursday, officials with the college said.

Eric, Liane and Gary Sato each made names for themselves both locally and nationally as part of the U.S. Olympic Team.

“We are delighted to honor this legendary sports family,” said Chip Potts, interim executive director of the SMC Foundation, which sponsors the SMC Sports Hall of Fame. “It’s not every day that SMC has on opportunity to recognize athletes who begin their sports career here and go on to achieve Olympic greatness!”

The eldest, Gary, attended SMC from 1973-77 before heading on to become an All-American outside hitter at the University of California at Santa Barbara. A distinguished coach, he was the assistant of the 1986 World Championship team and the 1987 Pan American Games. He then served as the head coach during the gold-medal win at the 1985 FIVB World Cup in Japan and was voted most valuable coach of the tournament.

Gary was the assistant coach for the 1988 Olympic gold medal team in Seoul and in 1992 he coached an Olympic team that won bronze. Gary took a brief break from volleyball as he received his doctorate of chiropractic degree, before rejoining the staff of the National Team for the 2010 FIVB World Championships.

Sister Liane attended SMC in 2002, but played collegiate volleyball at San Diego State University. She played professional beach volleyball before joining the 1988 and 1992 USA Olympic Women’s Team. She was an Olympic bronze medalist at the 1992 games after winning a bronze in the 1990 World Championships. Now, Liane contributes to the sport as Santa Monica High School’s head volleyball coach.

The youngest, Eric, was a two-time Olympic medalist and was known as the best defensive specialist in the world at the time. Beyond his Olympic success, he won gold medals at the 1986 World Championship and the 1987 Pan-Am Games, and bronze medals from the 1991 World Cup and the 1994 World Championship. Eric, a former high school and club team coach, has been recognized with multiple coach of the year awards, and now runs the Sato Volleyball Academy in San Diego County.

The Satos join such sports luminaries as Olympic gold medalist and retired SMC professor Dr. Tommie Smith, four-time Olympic swimming gold medalist and SMC alumnus Lenny Krayzelburg, and Olympic track and field bronze medalist and SMC alumnus Johnny Gray in the hall of fame.             


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