HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Wednesday marked National Letter of Intent early signing day for certain Division I sports and with all sports put on hold in Hawaii, some athletes had to pave their own path to get to signing day.
Athletes like Keila Kamoku, a shortstop from Kamehameha-Kapalama, who’s junior softball season with the Warriors got cut short when the pandemic shut everything down, but now finally signing with Ole Miss, she says that the stress of her future feels a lot less heavy.
“It just felt like a huge weight off of my shoulders,” Kamoku told Hawaii News Now. “Especially because it just helped my family a lot and it was a good experience to go out on the other side of the country to experience new things and to just get a better feel of what’s beyond Hawaii.”
Kamoku’s journey to signing day did not initially start with the Rebels, back in her Freshman year at Kamehameha, the Kapolei native was committed to UC Riverside, but throughout her tenure with the Warriors and a couple of mainland camps made her decommit from UC Riverside to rethink her options.
These camps were vital to Kamoku’s decision to explore other offers, like many athletes during 2020, camps are their only real exposure to scouts and recruiters, but these camps looked very different. Safety guidelines and socially-distanced dugouts were the norm, but that didn’t distract Kamoku from the game she loves.
“The softball part of it, I felt like it was the same because you’re already more than six-feet apart on the field and I guess the transition from being in the dugout to being on the field was just a lot of commotion going on.” Kamoku said.
At those camps, the 2021 prospect created a relationship with the then-head softball coach of Minnesota Jamie Trachsel, so Kamoku committed to playing for the Golden Gophers, but another unexpected turn in her path to signing day came when coach Trachsel got hired as the new head coach of Ole Miss.
After a lot of discussions with her family, Kamoku again made the decision to switch commitments to move down south to Ole Miss.
Now that the Kapolei native knew where she was going to further her softball career, she then shifted her focus to training, finding a new motivation because of the uncertainty of the pandemic.
When this pandemic started, It kind of drove me to do better than what was expected I guess." Kamoku said. “It’s all up to you and your hard work and dedication to the game, that’s what’s going to take you far and I believe that is my motto.”
“My dad always tells me, if you think you’re working hard, there’s always someone out there working just as hard or even harder than you.”
With no official word on when high school athletics will return to play in the 808, Kamoku says she’s ready to take the field whenever that is, but is excited to get the next chapter of her life started.
“I think i’ll be one hundred percent, one hundred and ten percent ready to run back on the field,” Kamoku said. “But my journey to my next step in my career and my life is only just getting started.”
Kamoku heads to Oxford, Mississippi next fall to begin her collegiate softball career.