Puneet Varma (Editor)

Long Beach State 49ers

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Conference  Big West Conference
Athletic director  Vic Cegles
Varsity teams  19
NCAA  Division I
Location  Long Beach, California
Long Beach State 49ers
University  California State University, Long Beach

The Long Beach State 49ers are the athletic teams that represent California State University, Long Beach. The 49ers compete in 19 sports teams and compete in NCAA Division I. Long Beach State is a founding member of the Big West Conference, and also competes in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation for sports not sponsored by the Big West.


In the realm of sports the school is referred to as "Long Beach State." The official name of Long Beach State sports teams is "The 49ers" in honor of the year the university was founded and for the prospectors of the California Gold Rush one hundred years before then. Unofficially, "The Beach" is used to refer to Long Beach State and its sports teams as it is the only university on the West Coast with the word "Beach" in its name. One can see the cheer "Go Beach!" written on many CSULB products around campus and on the large water tower near the entrance to the campus.

The school colors have been black and gold since 2000, when they were changed by a student referendum (after George Allen changed the football uniform colors) from the original brown and gold.


Long Beach State sponsors teams in eight men's and eleven women's NCAA sanctioned sports:

  • # = Teams competing in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
  • National team championships

    As of July 2, 2015, Long Beach State has won 4 NCAA national team championships.

  • Men (1)
  • Volleyball: 1991
  • Women (3)
  • Volleyball: 1989, 1993, 1998
  • Below are six national championships that were not bestowed by the NCAA.

  • Women (6)
  • Badminton (2): 1970, 1974 (AIAW)
  • Field hockey (1): 1979 (AIAW)
  • Volleyball (2): 1972-73 season, 1973 (fall) (AIAW)
  • Beach volleyball (1): 2013 (AVCA)
  • Below are five national club team championships won at the highest collegiate level.

  • Archery (recurve) (1): 2015 (mixed team)
  • Roller hockey (1): 2011
  • Sailing (2): 1966 match race, 1981 team race
  • Surfing (1): 2001
  • Rivals

    The Beach has several rival schools when it comes to sports. In addition to being located in close proximity to each other, Long Beach State and CSUF have competed heavily as conference rivals in baseball more than 20 years. More recently, specifically since 2006, Long Beach State and UC Irvine have participated in the annual "Black and Blue Rivalry Series." In this challenge, each school earns points for its collective conference championships and head-to-head victories against each other (across all NCAA sports in which both schools participate). The totals are added up at the end of the season and a winner is declared. Both schools are currently tied 2-2. Finally, Long Beach State also has a long-standing "beach school" rivalry with UC Santa Barbara.


    Unlike all other Long Beach State sports teams, the baseball team unofficially goes under the moniker "The Dirtbags." After the hiring of Dave Snow as head coach in 1989, the LBSU baseball team has become one of the most successful teams in the school's athletic history. The Dirtbags are consistently ranked in the national top 35 and have appeared in 17 of the last 20 NCAA tournaments. Along the way, the team has won 9 Big West conference championships, hosted 4 NCAA regionals (plus 1 super regional), and appeared in 4 College World Series (1989, 1991, 1993 and 1998). The Dirtbags nickname referred to a gritty, team first style of play taught by Coach Snow and subsequent coaches.

    Mike Weathers became 'Dirtbag' head coach in 2001. Upon Weather's retirement, he was succeeded by assistant Troy Buckley in 2010.

    The school has also produced a number of prominent professional players over the years, including former American League MVP Jason Giambi, former American League Rookie of the Year Bobby Crosby, and all-star and 2008 American League Rookie of the Year Evan Longoria. Many more ex-Dirtbags have participated in the prestigious MLB All-Star Futures game, such as rookie phenomenons Jered Weaver, Troy Tulowitzki and Danny Espinosa. Nine Long Beach State baseball alumni were playing in the big leagues during 2013.

    The baseball team plays off campus at Blair Field in Recreation Park (center of city; 1.7 miles off campus). Opened in 1956 and remodeled in 2002, Blair Field has been the full-time Long Beach State home field since 2003. The stadium seats 2,800 and has been seen frequently in movies, TV shows and commercials for generations. The site of a baseball field since Connie Mack had the Philadelphia A's trained there in the 1920s, virtually every high school, American Legion, Connie Mack and collegiate baseball play from the Long Beach/Lakewood area has played at the corner of 10th Street and Park Avenue for 90 years.


    The CSULB men's basketball team has also enjoyed success in recent times. In the 2006-07 season, the 49ers finished with a 24-8 (12-2) record, the Big West conference championship, and the school's first trip to the NCAA tournament in 12 years. Star guard Aaron Nixon was named Big West player of the year, as well as being selected as an AP Honorable Mention All-American. On April 6, 2007, it was announced that Dan Monson (formerly of Gonzaga University and the University of Minnesota) would become Long Beach State's next head Men's Basketball Coach, succeeding Larry Reynolds.

    The women's basketball team had its greatest success during the 1980s when coached by Joan Bonvicini for 12 years. During that time the team went 325-71. The 49ers won 10 Big West Conference titles, made 10 straight NCAA appearances, had 12 consecutive winning seasons, and never won fewer than 24 games in a season. Bonvicini guided the 49ers to Final Four appearances in 1987 and 1988.

    James Ennis played his freshman season at Oxnard College, a junior college in Oxnard, California, and his sophomore season at Ventura College, a junior college in Ventura, California. In 2011, he signed with Long Beach State, where he became a two-year starter. As a junior, Ennis averaged 10 points and 4.1 rebounds per game and helped lead the 49ers to Big West Conference regular season and conference titles. Ennis was named honorable mention all-conference at the close of the season.

    With the departure of conference player of the year Casper Ware, Ennis became the go to player for the 49ers in 2012–13. He responded by averaging 16.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game and leading the 49ers to another regular season Big West championship. At the end of the season, Ennis was named Big West Player of the Year and an AP honorable mention All-American.

    Following the close of his senior year, Ennis was named to the Reese's College All-Star Game, where he led the East team in scoring with 13 points, including a pair of baskets that clinched the game.


    Long Beach State competed in Division I football for a number of years (1969–91), producing a number of professional players, including Terrell Davis and Mike Horan, among others. George Allen, the famed Los Angeles Rams and Washington Redskins coach, had a short one-year tenure at Long Beach State. Long Beach State discontinued its football program after the 1991 season due to budget constraints. Prior to going Division I in 1969 the football team competed in the old "College Division" of the NCAA from 1955 through 1968.


    Long Beach State women's tennis team ('Beach Tennis') won the first of a conference record 12 consecutive Big West tennis titles in 2002 to reach their first NCAA tournament. The team has appeared in the conference title match every year since 2001. The 2014 team went undefeated in league play and then captured an 11th Big West tournament championship by reaching a record fourteenth consecutive conference final and then defeating rival UC Irvine for an tenth time in the championship match.

    'Beach Tennis' has qualified for eleven NCAA Championships and advanced to the 'Round of 32' in 2006 and again in 2012 and 2014. The 49ers have been a # 2 seed once, a # 3 seed eight times and a # 4 seed twice in NCAA tournament play.

    Head Coach Jenny Hilt-Costello has won a league record eight Big West Conference Coach of the Year awards (2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2014) and was named the ITA West Region Coach of the Year and a finalist for the national award in 2004.

    Five 'Beach Tennis' players have earned Big West Conference Player of the Year honors, including Hannah Grady who became the first student-athlete in any Big West Conference sport to be named Player of the Year four consecutive years (06, 07, 08, 09). Grady remains the only athlete in conference history to have earned Player of the Year honors all four years of eligibility. In February 2010, court #1 at the Rhodes Tennis Center was named Hannah Grady Court in lieu of retiring her number, as tennis players do not wear numbers. Five players have been named Conference Freshman of the Year since the award started in 2005.

    Long Beach State has been nationally ranked continuously since March 2001. The 2006 team reached #18 in the ITA National Rankings; then peaking at #26 in 2007, #35 in 2008, #25 in 2009, #35 in 2010, # 36 in 2011 and #40 in 2012, # 39 in 2013 and # 40 in 2014.

    The women's tennis team plays at the Terry L. Rhodes Tennis Center, which opened on campus Fall 2008. The tennis center is named after 49er alumnus Terry Rhodes following his $1.25 million gift to the women's tennis program. Mr. Rhodes' gift is the largest single sport donation in university history. The new facility also includes The Gloria and Bob Hendricks Family Scoreboard, a 40-foot (12 m) high electronic display of all matches donated by the family of the former 49er women's tennis head coach. The facility is located on the northeast side of campus immediately next to the $70 million Student Recreation and Wellness Center that opened in Fall 2010.


    Long Beach State is home to one of the top women's volleyball teams in the nation. LBSU alumnus Brian Gimmillaro has coached the team since 1985 and his tenure is the second-longest of any Long Beach State coach with one team. Long Beach State has appeared in the NCAA tournament 25 consecutive times under Gimmillaro from 1987 to 2011, only missing the tournament under his tenure in 1986 and 2012.

    Long Beach State has won three national titles in women's volleyball, in 1989, 1993 and 1998. The 1998 women's team was the first team in NCAA Division I history to have an undefeated season. The team's most famous alumna is Misty May, who won three Olympic gold medals in Beach Volleyball in 2004, 2008, and 2012.

    The men's volleyball competes in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. They won the MPSF regular season title in 2008. They won the 1991 NCAA Men's Volleyball Championship and have placed second five times.

    Water polo

    The Long Beach State Men's Water Polo team finished the 2012 season with a 5th place national ranking Contributing 4 players to the All-America team. The Long Beach State women's water polo team ranked as high as 10th in the nation during the 2011 season. Finishing the regular season with a 12-16 record, the 49ers went into the Big West Conference Championship seeded 6th. After knocking out two higher ranked teams, (UC Santa Barbara and CSU Northridge) Long Beach advanced to the championship game against UC Irvine. The 2011 squad also contributed five players to the All-Big West Team.

    Club sports

    In addition to NCAA-sanctioned sports, Long Beach State also fields numerous competitive club sports teams, such as rugby, ice hockey, ultimate, soccer, crew, skiing and many others.


    Founded in 1974, the Long Beach State Rugby Club plays college rugby in Division 1-AA. Long Beach has had a strong history winning 16 League Championships, 21 tournament championships, 1 National Championship appearance(loss to Air Force 1989), 13 All-Americans and 3 US Eagles. In 1995 Chris Rohrbach received the Woodley Award (Rugby Heisman) as the Collegiate player of the year. More recently Long Beach has been successful, Winning conference championships in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. Long Beach has also reached the national playoffs in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 & 2015. Long Beach is led by Head Coach Jason Reynolds.

    Rowing (Crew)

    Long Beach State Rowing, more popularly known as "Beach Crew," was founded in the fall semester of 1957, and continues to be one of the oldest, continuous, collegiate sports on campus. The team is currently run through the office of Club Sports & Recreation, but has been a part of the CSULB athletic department in past years. An attempt to bring the sport back into the athletic department failed in 2008 when the Beach Legacy Referendum was voted down by students.

    Beach Crew rows in Marine Stadium and Alamitos Bay of Long Beach. The team operates two boat bays of the Pete Archer Rowing Center, which is about 5 blocks south of the CSULB campus.

    The team was co-founded by Bill Lockyer, a local businessman of Long Beach, and Dr. Ludwig Spolyar, a campus activities adviser. Lockyer, who coached for over a decade, was succeeded by Ed Graham in 1970. Spolyar was appointed the duty to gather students from campus who expressed interest in the sport. Spolyar became the de facto coach in the 1956 season. After a successful run with UCLA and Orange Coast College, the team was officially founded the next year. The team's first racing shell was donated by Orange Coast College and the first set of oars by UCLA.

    A women's team was formed in 1973 by coach Stephen Buchan and has continued since then.

    Beach Crew is a member of the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association (WIRA), whose participants are mostly non-Pac-10 schools on the West Coast. The team is a founding member of the American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA), the national collegiate organization whose members are not eligible to compete in the National NCAA Championships or the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships. The team is currently coached by Robert Edwards, Jonathan Flietstra, Ian Simpson, and Megan Smith.

    The team has an active alumni group called The Beach Crew Alumni Association (BCA), which is a chartered project of the CSULB 49er Foundation. The BCA raises funds year round to assist the team's funding needs.


    Long Beach State has had the honor of having at least one of its own athletes participate in every Summer Olympic Games since the first Olympiad after the school's founding.


    Long Beach has had a number of nationally prominent coaches, including Tex Winter, Jerry Tarkanian and Lute Olson in men's basketball, George Allen in football, Frances Schaafsma in women's volleyball and basketball, Joan Bonvicini in women's basketball, throwing coach Art Venegas in Track and Field, and Jon Urbanchek and Don Gambril in swimming.

    Popular culture

    Alumnus John "J.P." Calderon competed in the 13th edition of the hit reality television show Survivor. Calderon, who is now a professionally ranked AVP player, graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 2000 after playing on the nationally ranked Division I Men's Volleyball Team.


    Long Beach State 49ers Wikipedia

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