Californians collect MotherLode crowns | AspenTimes.com

Californians collect MotherLode crowns

Tim Mutrie
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Larry "Nightrain" Sutliffe of Denver scoops the ball while making a save at the 30th annual Motherlode Volleyball Classic in Koch Park Thursday afternoon August 29, 2002. Paul Conrad photo.

During Jackie Campbell’s 11-year professional beach volleyball career, the Santa Barbara, Calif., resident accomplished nearly everything she set out to do.

But after retiring from the professional tour in 1997, one notable item remained on Campbell’s to-do list: a victory at the MotherLode Volleyball Classic in Aspen.

In 2000, Campbell and partner Ilga Celmins of Santa Cruz, Calif., came up just short, one of several runner-up finishes for Campbell in her six appearances at the MotherLode.

“I called Ilga this winter and told her I’d never won the MotherLode,” Campbell said Thursday at the 30th annual MotherLode. “I told her we needed to come back ? this has been on my to-do list for too long.”

Campbell, 38, and Celmins, 37, finally broke through on Thursday. The pair defeated Dallas’ Yolanda Munoz and Shannon Smith 15-8 in the finals of the Women’s Masters Division (35-plus) at the Koch Park sand courts. Campbell and Celmins didn’t lose a single match in the nine-team field, while Munoz and Smith advanced to the finals through the loser’s bracket.

In the Men’s Seniors Division (45-plus), Jon Hastings of San Luis Obispo, Calif., and Andy Schroeder of Concord, Calif., returned to win their second-straight MotherLode senior title.

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Hastings, the publisher of Volleyball magazine, and Schroeder topped Bob Blackburn of Sedalia, Colo., and Mike Fair of Culver City, Calif., 15-9 in the final. Buddies of 25 years dating back to college at Cal Polytech, the 46-year-olds first appeared in the MotherLode together in 1987 when they finished fifth in the Men’s Open Division. On Thursday, they weren’t far from their old form as they didn’t drop a single match in the 11-team field.

The Men’s Senior Division (50-plus) saw repeat victors as well. Jon Lee of Santa Barbara, Calif., and Don Shaw, the men’s coach at Stanford University, won by forfeit in the final over Bill Noon of Lawton, Okla., and Denver’s Ron Smith. An ailing right knee forced Noon to withdraw before the final match, though Lee and Shaw had yet to drop a match in the nine-team field.

Shaw, 51, has been a coach at Stanford for 22 years. He led the Cardinals women’s program to four Division I National Championships in 16 years before taking over the men’s program prior to last season. It’s a shift that has enabled Shaw to come to the last two MotherLodes as the men’s season is in the winter, while the women’s fall season presents a conflict.

“I don’t play much volleyball these days ? just this because it’s so much fun,” Shaw said. “Jon and I played in the late ?70s when the money was just coming into the sport ? at most tournaments, you’d win a dinner at a local restaurant. Now, it’s gone kinda wild, but this is a nice throwback to the way things used to be.”

Lee, 53, an English teacher and coach at San Marcos High School, first came to the MotherLode about 20 years ago to write a magazine article. He’s won “several” titles over the years, but couldn’t pin down the number on Thursday.

“It’s a tribute to the MotherLode that I don’t remember how many,” he said. “The victory is being here.”

MotherLode action continues through Monday.

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