Olympians with Hawaii ties give hope to local athletes

Dave Shoji
Dave Shoji

By Jason Tang - bio | email

MANOA (KHNL) - The U.S. Women's volleyball team is 2-1 in Olympic competition thus far. And you don't have to look too hard on the roster to see an obvious trend.

Three of them played right here at the University of Hawaii, and one of them is a Punahou alum. Now all of them are giving hope to our future Olympians.

Four athletes, all at the top of their game.

All four, have ties to Hawaii, and their play in Beijing is inspiring others to follow their path.

"It is something I'd like to do in the future, maybe four years London, hopefully I'll be there," said Jamie Houston, a Rainbow Wahine outside hitter.

Three of the current Olympic volleyball players played for Rainbow Wahine head coach Dave Shoji, and he's proud of how far they've taken their game.

"Well, I think I'm like every other person in this state when we see Heather, Robyn and Kim Willoughby out there, we just feel really great," said Shoji.

The feeling also extends to Shoji's current players, as many of them have aspirations of playing on the world's grandest stage.

"I think it's just awesome, I mean I want to go to the Olympics, and I'm sure a lot of the girls on the team want to, so it kind of just gives us an open gate," said Aneli Cubi-Otineru, a Rainbow Wahine outside hitter.

Despite the success of former UH athletes, coach Shoji says it's up to the players themselves to pursue volleyball after they graduate from his program.

"Once they leave here, their work isn't done, you hardly rarely ever step from college to an Olympic team, so when our players leave here as senior, they have a year or two to develop professionally somewhere in the world," said Shoji.

And wherever the players end up, just like Heather, Kim, Robyn and Lindsey, the State of Hawaii will always be here to support them.