'Rise of the Wahine': New documentary spotlights UH's first women's volleyball team

'Rise of the Wahine': New documentary spotlights UH's first women's volleyball team

HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - A historical documentary about the grit, guts and gusto that went into establishing the first Rainbow Wahine volleyball team is set to release early next month.

"Rise of the Wahine: Champions of Title IX" will premiere at the Historic Hawaiian Theater in downtown Honolulu on Sept. 5, after about six years of production.

Set in the 1970s, the film is centered around the mostly unknown story of how a group of Hawaii women fought against gender inequality to become the University of Hawaii's first female volleyball team in the Title IX era.

"I grew up in Honolulu, and this incredible story took place in my own backyard — I had no idea," said Dean Kaneshiro, director and writer for the project.

Women featured in the film include Title IX Co-Author Patsy Mink and Dr. Donnis Thompson, the University of Hawaii's first women's athletic director.

"This volleyball team is one of the most beloved sports teams in Hawaiian history," said the film's co-producer, Ryan Kalei Tsuji, in a statement. "I had no idea that 40 years ago the players had to make so many sacrifices to play — just because they were women."

Rise of the Wahine was also made possible by the contributions of several women including Tiffany Taylor, who produced the film, Paulette Wooten, who composed the film's music, and Hollywood actress and former Hawaii resident, Sarah Wayne Callies, who narrated the documentary.

"From this tiny island came women who played a significant role in unlocking the door of equality in female athletics and then busting it open for generations to come," Kaneshiro said. "They just wouldn't take 'no' for an answer."

Tickets to the premiere are available online beginning Thursday.

Tickets cost $18 and Hawaiian Airlines, the film's sponsor, will be donating 100 percent of premiere-night proceeds to the Patsy T Mink foundation, an organization that supports educational access and enrichment for low-income women and children.

Attendees will also automatically be entered to win a Las Vegas prize package that includes airfare, hotel accommodations on the strip, dining credit, and show tickets.

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