Weishoff, Paula (1962—)

views updated

Weishoff, Paula (1962—)

American volleyball champion who was inducted into the U.S. Volleyball Hall of Fame. Born on May 1,1962, in Torrance, California; attended the University of Southern California, 1978–79; married Karl Hanold.

Played in the U.S. Junior Olympics (1980); won a gold medal at the NORCECA championships (1981, 1983); won a bronze medal at the World championships (1982); won a silver medal at the Pan American Games (1983); won a team silver medal at the Los Angeles Olympics (1984); played professionally in Italy, Brazil, and Japan (1984–97); won a bronze medal at the Goodwill Games (1986); won a silver medal at the NORCECA championships (1991); won a team bronze medal at the Olympics and at the FIVB Super Four (1992); played professional beach volleyball (1993); won a gold medal at the World Grand Prix (1995); was a member of the Olympic volleyball team (1996); inducted into the U.S. Volleyball Hall of Fame (1998).

Paula Weishoff became known for her incredible ability as a middle blocker in both amateur and professional volleyball. She earned numerous "Most Valuable Player" honors as a member of the U.S. national team and while playing for various teams in the Italian and Japanese professional leagues. A native of Torrance, California, she originally turned to volleyball in an effort to ease the self-consciousness caused by her height, which had reached six feet by the time she was in the eighth grade. (She later grew another inch.) Weishoff began playing volleyball during her freshman year at West Torrance High School, where she would also letter in soccer, track, and softball. In 1978, during her senior year, she helped her volleyball team in reaching the semifinals of the Southern Section playoffs. She was also named volleyball player of the year in the Southern Section 3-A Division. A popular college recruiting target, she finally decided to attend the University of Southern California (USC). In her freshman year, she led the USC Trojans to a 46–4 season and the national championship. She was also honored as the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Women's Player of the Year. Her coach at USC, Chuck Erbe, described Weishoff as "an intimidating player and a physically imposing athlete. Her power made her a feared player … She could do it all."

Later admitting to the Los Angeles Times that the main reason she had chosen to attend USC had been to train for the Olympics, Weishoff left college in 1979, after only a year, to join the U.S. national team. In the 1980 U.S. Junior Olympics, she earned All-American and Most Valuable Player citations, and played a vital role on the bronze medal-winning American team at the 1982 World championships. In the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California, Weishoff helped Team USA win a silver medal and was honored as the U.S.' Most Valuable Player.

Because there was no women's professional volleyball league in America, Weishoff joined the women's professional league in Italy. She spent the next seven years living there, winning honors while playing for Cassana Dadda (1984–85), Civc Civ Modena (1985–88), and Reggio Emilia (1988–91). Weishoff rejoined the U.S. national team for the 1992 Olympics thanks to a change in the rules, which allowed her to play even though she no longer had amateur status. In the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, she managed 96 kills and 9 blocks with Team USA to take the bronze medal. She also earned an Outstanding Player of the 1992 Olympics citation.

Returning to professional volleyball in Italy, Weishoff rejoined Civc Civ Modena for the 1992–93 season, and also played beach volleyball in 1993. She spent 1994 playing in Brazil before moving to Japan, where from 1995 to 1997 she played for the Daiei team, winning the pro league title and MVP honors in her first year there. Taking time off in 1996, Weishoff again joined Team USA for the 1996 Olympics. Terry Liskevych, coach for the U.S. volleyball team, called Weishoff one of the "mainstays" of the team and a "big factor" in the team's success. Nonetheless, the U.S. did not win a medal in the 1996 Games in Atlanta, Georgia. After finishing her Japanese contract the following year, Weishoff returned to USC to take a coaching position with her former team. In 1998, she was inducted into the U.S. Volleyball Hall of Fame.


Johnson, Anne Janette. Great Women in Sports. Detroit, MI: Visible Ink, 1998.

Susan J. Walton , freelance writer, Berea, Ohio