April 22, 2005
U.S. Women’s Volleyball Gold Medalist Misty May and three-time national volleyball Coach of the Year Brian Gimmillaro honored 96 exemplary students this week at the annual Most Inspiring Student Awards.
The students and their success stories inspired more than 500 guests who attended the awards dinner, sponsored by the Long Beach Education Foundation at the Long Beach Hilton Hotel. Students were honored as role models for contributing to their schools and communities. Some have made significant academic gains and personal improvement.
"You are amazing," May, the 2004 Gold Medalist, told the students. "You inspire me with all of your hard work and all the obstacles you’ve had to overcome. I know you won’t let anything stand in your way." May overcame an abdominal injury to win the gold in Athens.
"When the odds are against me, that’s what inspires me the most," May said. "When people tell me I can’t do something, that’s what inspires me. There’s that 1 percent chance, and if you work hard enough, you’re going to turn it around and the odds will be in your favor."
Her former coach, Gimmillaro, told students that they possessed the same tenacious qualities as May.
"When things are most difficult, she has the ability to make her teammates around her comfortable with the challenge," he said.
Gimmillaro is the nationally honored California State University Long Beach coach of some of the world’s best women’s volleyball players. He is the only coach in the nation to have won national championships three times at the club, high school and NCAA Division I college levels, yet he considers his work as a teacher even more important than his accomplishments as a coach.
Also honored with Superintendent’s Community Service Awards at the event were Verizon, a long-time supporter of local schools, and Mike Murray, who is this year’s President of the Education Foundation. Both Verizon and Murray were honored for creating outstanding business partnerships that support student achievement. Murray emceed the event with Frank Mottek, news anchor with KNX News Radio and KTLA TV Channel 5.