In 2011, Paul Melby was 35 years old, husband to wife Shelly, father of Ana, Madison and Carson, and son to Robert and Phyllis Melby. An avid sports fan and athlete, Paul had added running to his repertoire and, no surprise, he was talented. But on May 14th of that year, as Paul crossed the finish line of a timed run that would’ve qualified him for the Boston Marathon, he collapsed and died of an undiagnosed heart condition.
Paul grew up playing basketball in Oklee, Minnesota. He wasn’t necessarily “tall” by that sport’s standards (standing around 5’10”), but Paul had a “spring” in his jump. That amazing vertical translated well to volleyball, which contributed to his success on the volleyball court (both indoors and sand).
Paul was an unbelievably good athlete, but he was also a supportive, positive, and professional role model—on and off the court. He never spoke ill of any opponent or chided a teammate. The only person he would ever “yell” at was himself. He never got mad or held grudges, but Paul would yell at himself occasionally when he felt he was letting his team down with a hit that landed out of bounds, a missed serve at a crucial point, touching the net accidentally, etc. More times than not, though, it became a humorous situation (watching a grown man yell at himself), which led to smirks, smiles, and laughter on the court. Paul loved to have fun and laugh, so this type of response from his teammates and opponents played right into his wheelhouse.
Paul Melby was, in short, the best friend and teammate anyone could ask for. That’s why, when he passed away, there was no question in anyone’s mind from his volleyball “family” that we would do something in his memory. Paul Melby is the reason that Melby Memorial Charities (MMC) was created, and it’s in his name that we at MMC will always strive to be the best representation of a perfect teammate. Paul was always there for his family and friends, and with his spirit in mind, the MMC organization continues to offer its help to volleyball families who may need a boost or a helping hand. We miss Paul immensely, but we hope through MMC that we can represent and share a little bit of his caring, fun, and genuine disposition with others.