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Wahine Volleyball

Wahine Volleyball: 40 Years Coaching Hawaiʻi`s Team

DAVE SHOJI
WITH ANN MILLER
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 248
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt14qrzcj
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  • Book Info
    Wahine Volleyball
    Book Description:

    Dave Shoji, legendary coach for the University of Hawai`i women’s volleyball program, looks back at four decades of coaching to tell his story along with that of the Rainbow Wahine, four-time national champions and consistently among the top-ranked teams in college sports. With the assistance of longtime beat writer Ann Miller, Shoji provides an exclusive look at the state’s perennially successful athletic team. His memoir traces the history and rise of the program—from 1975, when he was hired as a part-time coach by women’s athletic director Donnis Thompson and matches were held in the “sweatbox” of Klum Gym; through the late 1970s and the 1980s, which saw the start of the Booster Club and excitement of playing in front of sell-out crowds at Honolulu’s Blaisdell Arena; into the 1990s with the team’s move to its current home at the Stan Sheriff Center, attracting the sport’s largest and most devoted following; to the landmark 2013 season when Shoji became the winningest coach in NCAA history and on his way to a fortieth year with the Rainbow Wahine program. Interviews with memorable players, family, and assistant and rival coaches, together with over 100 action photos—plus twenty more in a color insert—bring back both thrilling and poignant memories of the greatest moments of Rainbow Wahine volleyball. The comprehensive yearly statistics, full player rosters, and handy index make the book a needed reference for trivia buffs. A keepsake for fans and players alike, Wahine Volleyball: 40 Years Coaching Hawai`i’s Team will delight any sports enthusiast as well as readers who enjoy first-person remembrances of what makes Hawai`i unique.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-5330-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. IX-XII)
  4. 1 THE BEGINNING OF SOMETHING SPECIAL
    (pp. 1-14)

    I was up on the stage because there was no place else to sit, or stand. It was the smallest gym I’d ever seen. To be honest, it wasn’t even called a gym. It was an “activity room” at a small Catholic school in Santa Barbara, California, barely big enough to hold a volleyball court, with a low ceiling and no space to walk on the floor without interrupting the game. And there, playing in this tiny gym, was Diane Sebastian, a middle blocker and one of the most sought-after women’s volleyball recruits in 1978.

    We had never recruited anybody...

  5. 2 FROM RELOCATION CAMP TO KLUM GYM
    (pp. 15-24)

    I grew up in a farming family. My mom, Chiz, and dad, Kobe, were both born in California. Both families were farmers, arriving in California from Japan in the 1920s. My mother’s family was more vegetable farmers. They grew everything from lettuce to strawberries and cantaloupe and tomatoes in Chino, California. My grandfather on Dad’s side lived fifteen miles north of Chino, in Upland, growing oranges and lemons.

    Mom and Dad grew up fifteen miles apart, maybe even less, but they never knew each other until the Poston internment camp, in Yuma County, Arizona, where they met as teenagers in...

  6. 3 A FOLLOWING LIKE NO OTHER
    (pp. 25-36)

    Our first home game against another major college team came in my second year. We opened the 1976 season against UCLA and sold out the Neal Blaisdell Center—all 7,831 seats.

    At the time, I couldn’t imagine Hawai‘i could draw almost eight thousand fans. I had no idea what was in store for us, no idea Hawai‘i would change the face of American volleyball.

    The program’s inaugural Division I schedule was essentially AIAW nationals at Portland in 1974, with matches against University of Hawai‘i-Hilo and Brigham Young-Hawai‘i as a warm-up. Hawai’i, with Alan Kang coaching, won its first nine and...

  7. 4 CLIMBING BACK TO THE TOP
    (pp. 37-51)

    After our amazing 1979 championship run, I got off the airplane in Honolulu feeling like I was still flying, walking on air. I hit the ground hard when reality sank in—those seven seniors who had been our core were all graduating. Diane Sebastian came back in 1980, which was huge, along with Nahaku Brown and Candy Kane and Kyra Bjornsson, but we figured it would be a tough year.

    Only it was Deitre Collins’ first year. Deitre was almost as significant as Diane, and her recruitment was probably just as significant because she had special qualities that no one...

  8. 5 TWICE IS NICE
    (pp. 52-61)

    We returned ten players in 1983 from our championship team, including all six starters. Some role players might have changed, but the basic starting lineup was the same.

    I don’t think it was hard to motivate anybody. They didn’t have to get fired up, they just loved volleyball and went out and played.

    “We all had different personalities,” Kori Pulaski recalled.

    Opposites attract. We had several different types—the relaxed and laid-back, the hyper, the academics and the not so smart, I’m not going to say dumb. We all have good careers now. It was a good group of people....

  9. 6 RECRUITING: LIKE LOOKING FOR A GIRLFRIEND
    (pp. 62-72)

    Recruiting is almost like looking for a girlfriend. It is vital to every program—you’ve got to work hard at it, you’ve got to find players, and then you’ve got to nurture them. You’ve got to recruit a hundred girls to get five, evaluate a hundred and sift through them and see which ones are interested in you and which ones you like and which ones you think can play at the highest level.

    There’s a lot to it, and rarely do you get the people you want. You have to have maybe ten people in mind for one position...

  10. 7 COACHING: TECHNIQUE, TACTICS, AND TRUST
    (pp. 73-87)

    People want to know why we are the way we are. In the early years—1975 and to the early ’80s—I would say my practices were more just organizational. There wasn’t a lot of technique. It was just passing drills, and I didn’t pay attention to detail. We just did repetitions and let people do the skill like they already knew how.

    Back then it wasn’t so scientific. For me as a coach, I was a player and it just came naturally to me. The players I inherited in the early days all knew how to play and were...

  11. 8 1987: WINNING IN ALL THE BEST WAYS
    (pp. 88-101)

    In 1984 we had eleven losses, the most in our history and one more than the 1980 team that was also trying to replace a court full of seniors. By the looks of the schedule, we weren’t horrible in 1984, but we lost to every good team we faced, and that included the last five matches. Three of those losses came in five sets.

    The last loss came against Oregon in the first round of the NCAA tournament, at Mac Court in Eugene. It was the first time we ever finished outside the top five. I think we all understood...

  12. 9 IMPACT PLAYERS
    (pp. 102-117)

    As I’ve gotten older, I look back more on what players have meant to the program. Their overall contribution to the program means more than what they did on the court. That is their legacy.

    I look back at people like Emily Hartong and Suzanne Eagye—both will always stand out as quality players and quality people. I’d say about 90 percent of our players have a legacy they can be proud of. That’s more important than who was the best player.

    But if I had to name the “best” players, based purely on athleticism and what they accomplished on...

  13. 10 A VOLLEYBALL HOME IN THE ISLANDS
    (pp. 118-128)

    Local players have always had a real knack for playing volleyball. The Hawai‘i kids just seem to be able to play the game the way it is supposed to be played, with a lot of enthusiasm and desire. Defensively, they don’t let the ball hit the floor, which has been our style forever.

    You can see it if you go watch junior club volleyball. The local teams are known for their defense, and they are always in the match because they can flat out play. They’ve played a long time and understand the game. They understand what they have to...

  14. 11 MEMORABLE MATCHES
    (pp. 129-141)

    I’ve always thought our regional match at Nebraska in 2002 was one of the greatest we have ever played, and we have forty years of great matches.

    It was a pretty typical scenario, where the home team had all the pressure. Nebraska was expected to go to the final four, but once we started to play well, you could just feel the pressure grow on Nebraska. Every time we made a great play, the crowd would go silent. Our momentum kept building, and they just folded.

    The venue itself was a terrific place to play. They’ve got great fans in...

  15. 12 ONLY IN HAWAI‘I
    (pp. 142-152)

    Contrary to a lot of opinion, we spend very little. The volleyball program has a budget along the same line as golf, tennis, track and field at UH and way less than women’s basketball. Let me count the ways!

    No money is spent on uniforms, shoes, practice gear, sweats. We are completely sponsored by Asics for all gear that we wear. We’ve had a great relationship with Asics. They do a lot of special things for us. They design uniforms for us, shoes, they design color schemes that are just for the University of Hawai‘i.

    In 1982, we were sponsored...

  16. 13 A POINT HERE AND THERE
    (pp. 153-167)

    Why one team wins and another loses is often just a matter of a few points. You can say that the team that won had a little more heart or something even more difficult to measure, but to be honest the difference is almost nothing. It’s a point here and there.

    When you win a Super Bowl or World Series or NCAA championship, that victory can never be taken away from you and you can always look to that big game and hold it in high esteem. But there are some teams that didn’t win that got an unlucky break...

  17. 14 COACHES, FRIENDS, AND RIVALS
    (pp. 168-176)

    At my first nationals, in Princeton in 1975, a guy came up to me before the tournament. It turned out he was dating one of my players, Mary McGrath. He said he would like to help me, do some scouting and watch the other teams for us. He was from Chicago—Taras Liskevych was the guy’s name.

    We became friends at that time, and he did help; he knew a lot about volleyball. During our week together he told me he was going to start a college program somewhere and his dream was to win a national championship. In one...

  18. 15 ON THE ROAD, AGAIN AND AGAIN
    (pp. 177-187)

    For the last decade, we’ve traveled nearly forty thousand miles a season. No other team comes close, and it’s hard to imagine another male coach on the road that much with so many women every year. I joke that’s why we always have to have at least one male assistant. There is a lot of bonding going on with me and my male assistant coach.

    There’s no question that I can’t and don’t choose to hang out with the team or other female coaches much. First and foremost, my wife wouldn’t appreciate it. Early on, when I was closer to...

  19. 16 HELP WANTED, AND RECEIVED
    (pp. 188-194)

    In the early days, my assistant coach was usually a friend who had nothing better to do. I don’t know how many of them were paid in the beginning. Alan Kang was the first one because he was around the UH campus and knew all the players and had volleyball expertise, besides being the head coach in 1974.

    Then it became a series of acquaintances who were really good volleyball guys. Dave DeGroot was one of the first—he went on to coach Cal—and Charlie Jenkins, who is a good friend of mine, helped us in 1977. I met...

  20. 17 LOOKING AHEAD
    (pp. 195-208)

    If something else had come along in 1976, I probably would have taken it and left the University of Hawai‘i. I never imagined coaching Wahine volleyball into my fifties, let alone sixties. Now, all I think about is the future.

    When I retire, I don’t want the new coach to be a Dave Shoji clone. The person who takes the job is going to have to stand on their own two feet and become their own person in the job. I would like somebody who has the program’s best interest in mind to take over. I want someone the community...

  21. APPENDIX 1: DAVE SHOJI COACHING RECORDS AND STATISTICS
    (pp. 209-212)
  22. APPENDIX 2: WAHINE RECORDS AND MILESTONES
    (pp. 213-220)
  23. APPENDIX 3: ASSISTANTS
    (pp. 221-222)
  24. INDEX
    (pp. 223-227)
  25. Back Matter
    (pp. 228-229)