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David Nelson / Society

Volleyball Exhibition Warms La Jolla Party

April 17, 1986|DAVID NELSON

LA JOLLA — It is said that French has lost its status as the language of international diplomacy, but none of the 250 guests seated around Betty Summers' tennis court had the least difficulty in understanding the orders barked by the French announcer to his compatriots on the National Volleyball Team of France.

"Vite, vite, il fait froid!" he exclaimed, which his shivering audience sympathetically translated as, "It's cold! Let's get this game over with and head back to the buffet!"

The French team and their opponents, the U.S. men's volleyball team, took the cue, and the match concluded in a barrage of balls that bombarded the spectators like hail at a Kansas picnic. Everyone agreed that this minor inconvenience, which resulted in a few close shaves and several spilled drinks, merely added to the fun of being there.

Summers presented the evening as a benefit for the U.S. men's and women's teams, both of which call San Diego home. The men's team captured Olympic gold in 1984, and won the 1985 World Cup championship. The proceeds from the exhibition match and reception will help send the team to the next world championship. That competition will be in Paris in September, and a member of the French team, after sizing up the American competition, said, "Oui, ca sera un jeu!" (Translated excessively loosely, that is: "Look out, the Yanks are coming!")

Although the drafts blowing up from the sea made the evening unseasonably arctic (many of the women professed to envy the players their warm-up suits), the guests gave a summery welcome to the American and French teams. The camaraderie may have seemed the most enthusiastic near the Huo-Vila Caterers buffet tables (pates and such, but no quiche), where the cans of blazing Sterno raised the temperature by a degree or so.

Since the real competition was to take place the following night at San Diego State University, the two teams indulged in a relatively carefree, easygoing pair of games. Indeed, one American player remarked that it was hard to feel competitive toward a group of opponents who were also uniformed in red, white and blue. Certain formalities were observed beforehand, though; the anthems of both countries were sung, and the players, as tradition demands, exchanged token gifts before the first ball sailed through the air. Gift-giving apparently plays a certain role in the sport of volleyball, and among those on the receiving end of this pleasant custom was hostess Summers, who was awarded a kiss and a bouquet by U.S. team captain Karch Kiraly.

Summers, who appeared to enjoy to the hilt her role as a temporary sports promoter, said that her acquaintance with big-time volleyball is of relatively recent vintage. She explained that part of her enthusiasm has been inspired by the fact that her daughter, Linda, who attended the match, is a director of USA Volleyball Inc. Daughter Suanne Summers joined the family party.

Al Monaco, executive director of the U.S. Volleyball Assn., flew in from Colorado Springs, Colo., for the event and said he was not surprised by the heavy attendance. "This team is like San Diego's Olympic franchise," he said. "It's one of the town's hottest properties."

Among those whose presence supported this point of view were event chairman Joe Purdie, Kim and Marilyn Fletcher, Frank and Sandi Kingery, Jerry Mandel, Larry and Ewa Robinson, Mike and Lynn Harland, Lee and Mary Rice, Harry and Dorothy Johnston, Ron and Marilyn Smith, John and Sandra DePuy, Fernanda Sammis, Dennis Jay, Dana Fahey, Rudy and Colleen Suwara, and Kent Brooks.

SAN DIEGO--The Children's Hospital and Health Center Auxiliary does not claim to have gone into the business of making miracles happen, but it did produce several at its fourth annual fashion luncheon, "When We Wish Upon a Star . . . Miracles Happen," which was given April 8 in the Mission Ballroom of the Town & Country Hotel.

Among these miracles:

- Police Chief Bill Kolender was enticed to not merely attend a fashion show, but to participate.

- Thirteen-year-old Jennifer Johnston, who in September became the first child west of the Mississippi to undergo (at Children's, naturally) a revolutionary surgical procedure for scoliosis, was invited to participate in the event. The young Alpine resident, who dreams of becoming a professional model, would have been denied that dream had her condition not been treated. She took a spot on the stage to assist with the prize drawing that was one of the day's several highlights.

Master of ceremonies Kolender attributed his presence partly to the fact that event co-chairman Lucy Means is his tennis coach. "I couldn't stay away--how could you say 'no' to Children's?" he asked. Kolender did seem pleased to have accepted the invitation; after casting a long gaze over the room, he declared: "Have you ever seen so many beautiful women in one room?"

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