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Lady Sea Warriors hit books, not balls

by Chuck Cordill, assoc. editor

As collegiate volleyball players, the HPU Lady Sea Warriors understand that they help inspire a generation of youngsters who dream of someday playing the game at a higher level. But recently, the team provided motivation of a different sort—they traded their volleyballs for books.

In August, the team took a road trip to the Leeward coast to lend a hand in Waianae Intermediate School’s, “America’s Choice” reading program. Entering its third year, the program agenda includes stirring the minds of students to read 25 books a year, roughly one million words.

To accomplish this goal, the Waianae Intermediate administration invited individuals and groups from the community to participate in a “kickoff assembly” in which they would speak to the student body about the importance of reading. The students responded with enthusiasm. When Head Coach Tita Ahuna and her team were introduced, a buzz of excitement circulated amidst the students seated on the grassy lawn outside the classrooms.

“ The kids know who Tita is and what she’s accomplished,” said Principal John Vannatta. “I think they [the HPU coach and team] got the biggest ovation of the day.”

In today’s world, getting children to sit down and actually read a book presents a challenge. They have video games, personal computers with interactive software and the Internet, MTV and VH1, and cable TV that seems to multiply channels by the minute. Not to mention cell phones. But in our rapidly expanding dependence on high technology, there remains a tried—and—proven truth. Kids who are able to read and articulate themselves in written form are more likely to succeed both in academics and life. Principal Vannatta sees the participation of student athletes as a positive impetus.

“ A lot of kids look up to athletes,” Vannatta said. “It’s important for them to see the way academics play an important role in these student athletes’ lives.”

Coach Ahuna agrees, and she also believes that student athletes owe a debt of social responsibility that comes with the high profile accolades of collegiate sport: there is an obligation to give back.

“ Our student athletes have the potential to be great role models for our children,” Ahuna stated. “I think HPU’s athletic program is part of the community, and we have a responsibility to the community to act accordingly, especially for the keiki. I tell the ladies that we represent our school as well as our individual selves at all times, not just when we put on our uniforms for a match.”

Coach Ahuna, senior outside hitter Davina Dobson, and sophomore outside hitter Briana Marinas all grew up on O‘ahu’s leeward coast and seemed especially enthusiastic about the assembly.

Dobson, a four-year letter winner for the Lady Sea Warriors, felt that she was helping to repay the “aloha” shown to her by the people she grew up with and the guidance that steered her to her pursuit of a business administration degree.

“ I grew up on the Leeward side, and it means a lot to me to give back to the community,” she said. “Without the support of the people in that area, I don’t think I’d be where I am today. It means a lot to me as a person to give back.”

Dobson also expressed her desire for HPU to continue its participation in this and other community outreaches. “I really had fun, and the kids did too,” she said. “It was a very rewarding experience for me personally, and I’d like to see our school involved in this project on a regular basis. I feel like we have a responsibility to help provide guidance for younger people.”



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