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Paula Weishoff Biography

Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments, Further Information


American volleyball player

Paula Weishoff is a two-time Olympic medalist in volleyball, and is one of the top volleyball players of her generation. She was inducted into the U.S. Volleyball Hall of Fame in 1998. She currently acts as assistant coach for the top-rated women's volleyball team at the University of Southern California (USC).

Paula Weishoff was born in 1962 in Los Angeles, California. She began playing organized volleyball while in the eighth grade. Weishoff first distinguished herself as an outstanding volleyball player on her school team at West Torrance High in California. A well-rounded athlete in high school, Weishoff lettered in not only volleyball, but also in track, soccer, and softball.

Weishoff's introduction to volleyball came at about the time that the U.S. national women's volleyball team was founded. But it was not the national team that inspired Weishoff to begin to dream that she could make volleyball her living; it was watching a local team playing in exhibition games in Los Angeles that inspired her to attend a sports festival in Colorado Springs, Colorado as a volleyball player.

Still in high school, Weishoff attended the Colorado Springs festival, and successfully competed with young women from all over the country for the chance to play in the Pacific Rim Tournament in Hawaii. Traveling to Colorado Springs to play volleyball opened her eyes to the broader world of volleyball beyond California. She made lifelong friends at the event, and it was there that she first began to dream of playing for the U.S. national team. The Pacific Rim Tournament became Weishoff's first international volleyball competition, and there she dared to set her sights even higher.

After winning a silver medal in volleyball at the U.S. Olympic Festival in 1979 and earning Most Valuable Player (MVP) honors at the 1980 U.S. Junior Olympics, Weishoff enrolled in college at the University of Southern California (USC) in 1980. At USC, Weishoff played for the school's women's volleyball team, the USC Trojans. During her first year on the Trojans, Weishoff led her team to victory at the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) Championships.

While she was in school, Weishoff tried hard to balance the demands of an academic life with her volleyball schedule, and found that she had difficulty doing justice to both. Finally, after a year at USC, she decided to devote herself full-time to volleyball. Weishoff left college in 1981, after a achieving her dream of signing with the U.S. national women's volleyball team.

Paula Weishoff

In her first season with the U.S. national team, Weishoff and her teammates took home the gold medal at the North and Central America and Caribe (NORCECA) Championships. Her team continued to win awards at tournaments through the early 1980s, including the bronze medal at the World Championship games in 1982, and the silver medal at the Pan American Games.

In 1984 the summer Olympics were held in Weishoff's home state of California, and she was named to the U.S. women's volleyball team. The U.S. women took home the silver medal at the Olympics, and Weishoff was named Team USA's MVP.

After the Olympics, Weishoff played for no less then five Italian First (A1) Division teams into the 1990s. She also continued to play for the U.S. national team, which continued to win awards into the 1990s, including the bronze medal at the Goodwill Games in 1986 and the silver medal at the NORCECA Championships in 1991.

In 1992, Weishoff, then 30 years old, again played on the U.S. women's volleyball team at the Olympics. The team lost its chance for a gold metal after losing to the Cuban team, but took home the bronze metal after over-coming Brazil. Weishoff herself was named Most Valuable Player of the entire Olympics. She was delighted with the honor and with having won her second Olympic medal. As she was later quoted by Bill Dwyre in the Houston Chronicle as saying, "In 1984, it was a great feeling winning the silver. And it was great to be able to come back and compete in the Olympics. I guess I'm lucky to have two chances and have two medals. I may not have a gold medal, but I have a heart of gold."

Weishoff continued to play for the U.S. women's national team after the 1992 Olympics. The team won bronze at the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) Super Four in 1992 and the gold medal at the World Grand Prix in 1995. Also in 1995, Weishoff went to play for the Japanese team Daiei, leading it to the Japanese professional league title, and earning herself MVP honors.

Weishoff went to the Olympics with Team U.S.A. one last time in 1996. The team did not medal this time, and the following year, Weishoff retired from competition to return to USC to complete her undergraduate studies. The year 1997 was a big one for Weishoff. Not only did she retire from playing volleyball competitively and return to school, but she also started a new career as assistant coach for her old team, the UCS Trojans. Also that year, she married her husband, Karl Hanold.

Weishoff was inducted into the U.S. Volleyball Hall of Fame in 1998. She graduated from USC in 2000 with a B.A. in humanities with a minor in business. By 2003, she had become head assistant coach for the USC Trojans, and had helped to make it the top-rated college women's volleyball team in the country.

Weishoff is proud of what the USC women have accomplished. "This team could win two or three national championships," she told Phil Collin in the Daily Breeze in December of 2002. "I think this team could establish itself as the dynasty that USC used to be. That was kind of their goal when they were recruited… to create a team as good as the legendary ones of the past." Weishoff also serves as the international player representative for USA Volleyball, the national governing body for the sport of volleyball in the United States, and has served as assistant coach for USA Volleyball's High Performance programs and the Youth National team.

When asked if she had any advice for young athletes considering a career in sports, Weisoff offered this: "I would just say to follow your heart.… Don't let people talk you out of it or convince you to do other things if this is where your heart is." Most of all, she said, have fun playing.

Sketch by Michael Belfiore

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsVolleyball