Sinjin Smith at 63
PACIFIC PALISADES, California, USA, May 7, 2020 - It has been
nearly 20 years since Sinjin Smith has played in a competitive
tournament featuring the world's elite players, but the
legendary American beach volleyball performer is still active in
the sport he loves as he celebrates his 63rd birthday today.
In addition to supervising events for the FIVB, Smith founded
and runs BeachVolleyballcamps.com, NCSVA.com and a club on the
beach for high school girls wanting to play in college and on
the pro tour. A board member for the California Beach Volleyball
Association and president of Sports and Entertainment for
Kingofthebeach.com, Smith is also a partner with Rallyvb.com
that runs outdoor events in Georgia (Atlanta) and Alabama
Smith, who played in his first recorded competitive event in May
1977 with another American beach volleyball icon Ron Von Hagen,
has been involved in the management side of the sport since the
mid-1980s when he served as the president of the American
domestic tour (AVP).
“Since the mid-1980s, I have been both a player and
administrator in the sport,” said Smith. “I helped start the
American domestic tour before getting involved with the World
Tour as the president of the FIVB Beach Volleyball Council. I
played a role in getting the sport into the Olympic Games as
well as playing in the Atlanta Summer Games.”
As a player, Smith teamed with Randy Stoklos to compete together
in 12 of the first 21 FIVB World Tour events from February 1987
through February 1993 where the pair topped the podium 10 times
with 11 medals and 12 semifinal appearances. In addition to
winning five (1987, 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1992) of the first
seven World Championship Invitationals in Rio de Janeiro, Smith
and Stoklos also captured the gold medal at the Barcelona
Olympic test event in 1992 at Almeria, Spain.
Recognised as one of beach volleyball's all-time great teams,
Smith and Stoklos teamed for the first time in July 1982 with
their partnership continuing through May 9, 1993 when the pair
placed fourth at an event in San Antonio, Texas. During that
12-year stretch, Smith and Stoklos competed in 238 domestic and
international events with 114 titles, 174 championship matches,
214 final fours and 231 quarterfinal appearances
Smith and Stoklos also became the first $1- and $2-million
earners in beach volleyball history and have since been joined
in the record books by American pairs Misty May-Treanor/Kerri
Walsh Jennings, Karch Kiraly/Kent Steffes, Phil Dalhausser/Todd
Rogers and Jen Kessy/April Ross, and the Brazilian tandems of
Juliana Felisberta/Larissa Franca, Shelda Bede/Adriana Behar and
Emanuel Rego/Ricardo Santos.
"One of the hardest things you can go through," Smith said about
the ending of his partnership with Stoklos. "I am sure it must
be like going through a divorce. After playing for over 10 years
and being the most successful team in the history of the sport
and the FIVB team of the decade for the 1980s, I was hurting
physically. Randy felt like he could do better with a new
partner. I don’t begrudge him for moving on.”
Following the 1993 season, Smith took nine months off for some
"well needed surgery. The surgery fixed a serious problem and I
decided to give it another go. I came back stronger and
qualified for the Atlanta Olympics with a talented volleyball
player (Carl Henkel) that lacked experience on the beach. After
having a good show at the 1996 Olympics, I was convinced that
Randy and I would have won the gold when I was 39 years old. I
went on to play for another five years and barely missed
qualifying for the Olympics in 2000."
With his career spanning 25 years (1977-2001) with participation
in 419 domestic and international events with 139 titles, Smith
played in the first international exhibition in Brazil in 1986.
“It was such a huge success that the promoter asked me to join
him in approaching the FIVB to propose a World Tour sanctioned
by the international federation,” said Smith. "The plan was
approved, and the first World Championship Invitational was held
the next year where Randy and I topped the podium."
As one of the founders and original players on the international
circuit, Smith "helped write" the first handbook for FIVB
events. "I was in a unique position to be a player and also
behind the development of the sport worldwide," said Smith. "I
had previously done the same thing with the AVP as one of the
original founders and its president. This of course led to me
working with the FIVB to make beach volleyball an Olympic
As both an administrator and player, Smith said he "was in a
great position to play an integral part in the development of
the sport. With the FIVB's backing, I was able to speak directly
with the IOC president and its members to lobby for beach
volleyball. I also played in a special international event in
1992 in Spain that showcased beach volleyball for the IOC."
All three of Smith’s sons are active in volleyball and beach
volleyball. Smith’s oldest son Hagen followed in his footsteps
and played collegiately at UCLA where he wore his father’s
retired number (22) in volleyball. Son Stanton is graduating
from CSUN this year and plays on the beach. Sinjin Jr. attends
at Call Poly San Luis Obispo where he helps Olympic and world
champion Todd Rogers with the women’s beach volleyball team.
"The last few years, I have played with my sons and wife (Patty)
at the beach on Christmas eve along with participating in an
occasional exhibition,” said Smith. “I have played in a
four-person event with my sons in Mexico. What a treat. I have
also played with the Hov (Tim Hovland) at his beach with his
local four-man crew."
"I am incredibly lucky to have played when I did,” said Smith.
"I couldn’t have asked for anything more in an athletic career
or a job or even in a dream!"