Take UH Beach Volleyball To Waikiki

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - August 17, 2011
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April Ross (right) and Jennifer Kessy of the USA played in London last week. UH is adding a Wahine beach team. AP photo

The plan to add a sand volleyball team to the list of women’s athletic programs at UH is a no-brainer.

The Wahine is an established brand and the location, level of coaching and the steady supply of local talent could quickly vault the program to national prominence.

Wahine associate coach and former pro beach volleyball player Scott Wong has been chosen to lead the new program.

Last week he met with Kelly Hupp, Hale Koa Hotel’s director of parks and recreation, about using the outdoor courts as practice space for the Wahine. HPU has used the courts as a practice site in the past. Neither Marilyn MonizKaho’ohanohano, UH’s associate athletic director and senior woman administrator, nor Wong could be reached for comment prior to MidWeek‘s deadline.

Under the current plan, the university will compete at a yet-to-be-determined site while the construction of two on-campus courts at the T.C. Ching Athletic Complex are completed.

Putting the team behind the fences at UH is a predictable and likely costeffective move, but it also could deny the school an excellent opportunity to market the program.

In Manoa, sand volleyball is just another athletic contest. In Waikiki it can be an event.

The Hale Koa has proven itself to be a good neighbor to both residents and visitors by maintaining the parks and beachfront that surround the property.

So coming to an agreement that makes the hotel the permanent home of Wahine sand volleyball wouldn’t be a difficult task, nor would it take a lot of effort to craft an agreement that is mutually beneficial to both parties.

The hotel’s Barefoot Bar, Happy’s Snack Bar and Koa Oasis are open to the public and could see increased business from those attending the matches. Parking isn’t a problem with the hotel’s two lots, and its central location means visiting teams could walk to the site, which would provide instant advertisement and more excitement for the event. UH, for its part, could pay to improve facilities and for collapsible bleacher seating.

The hotel could help maintain the site and rent out the courts for military and club league tournaments, with the revenue being split by both the hotel and the university. Concession sales of UH logo wear also would help offset costs.

Having world class collegiate volleyball on its doorstep also would be great entertainment for hotel guests.

UH could create the “Wahine Walk” from the Hale Koa parking lot to the courts. Before each contest, student-athletes, cheerleaders and a pep band could lead friends, family and visitors to the courts.

Flags and banners at the site would draw spectators from the thousands of people who daily transit the area, of which just a fraction may be enough to create the greatest home court advantage in the country.

The site also could become one heck of a recruiting tool as every young girl who walks past the courts during a family vacation immediately receives the message that the University of Hawaii is the spot to launch their collegiate and Olympic dreams.

It is unlikely another university can match the combination of location, support and the ability to jump in the warm Pacific after a grueling match.


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