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Henry Bergmann

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Henry Bergmann Memorial Court Project

Henry Bergmann
Photo Courtesy Bruce Hazelton
Our city has many beautiful faces to show the world—hence our international reputation for year round weather, California culture and natural wonder among tourists everywhere. Perhaps Santa Barbara’s most fetching face of is that which we show the Pacific at East Beach. The Channel Islands rising before us, looming mountains to our back, with radiant sunrises and sunsets to the East and West. And amidst it all, a swarm of volleyball courts on the broad stretch of sand, for families, beach walkers, and devotees of our sporty subculture to enjoy.

The late Henry Bergmann was the first of Santa Barbara’s many world class graduates of that East Beach subculture who have taken the sport of beach volleyball, and the pride of Santa Barbara’s athletic community, to national and Olympic levels. Karch Kiraly, Dax Holdren and most recently Todd Rogers have all represented the USA in the Olympics, often bringing home the gold, and making Santa Barbara the first name in international volleyball prominence.

East Beach as a Mecca of beach volleyball is now legendary. And Henry was East Beach’s first legend. A soft-spoken 1962 graduate of Santa Barbara High , “Hammering Hank” let his unrivaled power, his fluidity of movement and his dedication to the sport do the talking. There was no prize money to be made in the tournaments that raged from San Diego to Santa Cruz in the late sixties, but there was an avid community of beach athletes and thousands of fans with respect and pride to win. Henry rose to the top of this world with his charismatic spiking, his tireless jump and his quiet humility.

Partnering with Larry Rundle, Henry confronted beach volleyball icons of the era, Ron Lang and Ron Von Hagen throughout the late sixties and early seventies in tournament finals, winning most, and forever solidifying his position as one of the sport’s all time best.

Those of us who remember his talent, his character and dedication to the sport, would like to commemorate his legacy with a permanent memorial to Henry and East Beach. This memorial, while celebrating his life and the sport of beach volleyball, so important to Santa Barbara and to each of us, would also serve as a recognition of East Beach as a vital component of sporting life and recreation in in the community.

Well over a hundred of his friends and admirers have contributed the funds to make this possible. There could be no better site than East Beach to establish this tribute to a man who spent much of his life and most of his soul in these sands.

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