Misty May-Treanor may be Long Beach’s most well-known resident, and the three-time Olympic gold medalist might be the city’s biggest reason for immigration right now, too.

Looking over the roster for the Long Beach City College women’s volleyball team, coached by May-Treanor, it’s apparent that she deserves sponsorship from the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The Vikings will boast players from all over, including the Bay Area, Kansas City, multiple cities in Texas and Las Vegas. The reason why the community college program is suddenly a national destination, bringing in some players who are actually turning down Division 1 scholarships to be Vikings?

“I mean, it’s freaking Misty May,” said Paige Panter, a sophomore who left a scholarship at her hometown Texas A&M behind to come to Long Beach. “Easy call.”

The Vikings boast plenty of local talent, too, with graduates of LBUSD schools like Wilson and Lakewood and nearby Mayfair. But it’s obvious that May-Treanor has provided the instant credibility boost that was expected when she became Director of Volleyball at LBCC, coaching the indoor team in the fall and establishing a new beach program last spring.

The results from the first season were positive. The Vikings went 16-5 last year indoor and won their first conference title in 16 years, also qualifying for the state playoffs where they made it to the second round. On the beach, they were similarly a success in their inaugural year, making it to the state finals and then watching Sarah Miller and Panter claim the tournament state title as a duo.

This year brings with it excitement, as well as some new challenges. First, the Vikings have had almost 30 players come and sign up for the team, which means May-Treanor and her staff will have to whittle down their roster — that’s about twice as many players as an NCAA Division 1 program would travel with.

Second, May-Treanor will be adding two new names to her family’s roster in the middle of the season, as she’s due with twins in November.

“I’ve got five strong assistant coaches who make this program what it is,” May-Treanor said. “I don’t think we’ll miss a beat.”

That staff includes Lakewood and Long Beach State alum Tyler Jackson, as well as May-Treanor’s father Butch.

“I still learn from all of them every day,” May-Treanor said. “Well, I don’t learn vocabulary from my dad.”

May-Treanor said she was happy with how her first year on the job went, and gratified to see how many players came to LBCC to be a part of the program.

“I’m not a salesperson, I want the product to speak for itself,” she said.

The profile of the program is raising in every way. This year, the Vikings will play several matches in LBCC’s Hall of Champions, having outgrown the smaller volleyball gym on campus. The Hall of Champions is also undergoing a facelift, getting a Viking ship imprinted on it to help make it look like an NCAA-level facility.

The gym will also get volleyball lines for the first time, which means the boundaries will be a little crisper than the hand-taped ones May-Treanor and Butch put down before the conference championship last season.

It’s rare to have an athlete of May-Treanor’s status who’s so willing to help build a program from the ground up (literally), but that’s what LBCC has in their women’s volleyball coach.

The Vikings will open on Friday, Sept. 1, against Saddleback and San Diego Mesa at noon and 2 p.m., and will open conference play against Irvine Valley on Sept. 8. 

Sports Guy Mike Guardabascio has been writing professionally for a decade, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards and is the author of the historical book "Football in Long Beach."

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