HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Five weeks ago, former Konawaena standout Chanelle Molina achieved one her childhood dreams, signing a training camp contract with the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, the Kona native hoping be a trailblazer for all the girls that want to achieve big things.
“It’s amazing opportunity.” Molina told Hawaii News Now. “I’m honored to have the chance to be that person, I’m very excited to represent my culture and like I said an honor to be that role model for all those aspiring to be in my position and wanting to play at a high level.”
A 2016 graduate of Konawaena high school, Molina helped the Wildcats capture two HHSAA Division I girl’s basketball titles, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing — the 22-year-old says that it was the struggles that helped her reach higher heights.
“It started off a little rough, my freshman year, we lost, it was the state title game championship game.” Molina said. “I missed the game tying layup that could’ve tied us up, after the game, you know we lost, I was devastated and I told myself I’m never going to put myself in this position ever and fast forward the next three years, we ended up winning the state title.”
The former Wildcat used her impressive prep career to catapult herself into college, attending Washington State University where in her first year, Molina would see early success.
“We played UCLA, they were ranked number seven at the time and that was my one big breakthrough game. “ Molina said. “I scored 33 points, we won the game and so I was like, okay, it was at that point, I was like, you know, I can actually be good in college and have a really good career.”
The early success would be met with more adversity, one week after her electrifying game against the Bruins, Molina would tear her ACL against Arizona — ending her freshman campaign.
The emotional recovery would push Molina to come back the following season, still trying to get past the mental barrier of her injuries, but her junior and senior years would see Molina return to her showstopping ways.
During her tenure with the Cougars, Molina averaged 12.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4 assists.
Going undrafted in 2020, The former Coug played overseas in Sweden before she got the call from the Indiana Fever — A sign that all of her adversity was about to pay off.
With the signing, Molina becomes the first player of Filipino descent to make it to the WNBA, along with being the first Hawaii-born player in the league, a double dose of history and responsibility that the newest Fever is excited to take on.
“You know, coming from Hawaii, I’m also representing that side of my culture too.” Molina said. “Even though I’m not Hawaiian or anything, I was born and raised there, so for me to be the first, as well it’s an honor.”
Chanelle Molina heads to the Hooser state when the Indiana Fever open training camp on April 25th.