Toth Tales From The UH Sidelines
Wednesday - October 08, 2008
Former UH athletic trainer Melody Toth’s Let’s Go Bows! is the third recent publication taking a look back at the history of UH sports, and it may be the best. It has more depth of subject matter than Ian Sample’s Once A Warrior and stays away from the ridiculous hyperbole that dragged down J. David Miller’s Hawaii Warrior Football: A Story of Faith, Hope and Redemption.
The book’s strongest point comes from the look back at the humble beginnings of Wahine athletics and the spectacular growth of a sports program that was nearly nonexistent three decades ago when Toth first arrived on campus.
Highlighted by the four-time national champion Wahine volleyball teams that thrilled audiences at cramped and sweaty Klum Gym, and whose skill turned the Stan Sheriff Center into women’s volleyball’s most tightly packed arena, Toth reintroduces the great Wahine athletes who have moved on. Tita Ahuna, Tee Williams, Deitre Collins, Robyn AhMow, Angelica Ljungquist, Suzanne Eagye, Lisa Strand, Joyce Kaapuni and even the twin Pulaski sisters, Kris and Kori.
In addition to the fondly remembered and somewhat forgotten athletes, the book wisely takes the time to recall the names of those who laid the foundation for the programs and who have kept it running. This is something the other chroniclers of Hawaii sports have missed.
Dr. Donnis Thompson, the first AD for women’s athletics and the driving force behind women’s equality at UH, is fondly remembered as are Drs. Ralph Hale and Allen Richardson, two acclaimed physicians who not only served their medical duties but who also used their intelligence and connections for the benefit of women’s athletics.
Toth also needs to be credited for shining some light on perhaps the most unrecognized, yet critical individual in the athletic department, Margie Okimoto. Okimoto actually got her own short chapter, and after serving six athletic directors and being on staff longer than any other current employee, she deserves it. Her simplistic job title of secretary fails to describe the job she has done in her 40 years on campus.
While Let’s Go Bows! is certainly recommended reading for what is included, it gets black marks for the information that is missing.
After three decades being an integral part of both men’s and women’s programs, perhaps no person is better able to take the reader through the beauty and blemishes of the program and to provide insight into the athletes who were some of the most colorful characters to ever spend time on campus. We get hints, but are left in want for much more as the book provides little information to give the reader any real understanding of the athlete’s personalities.
Reading about Dave Shoji - he of the stress-induced bulging vein - adopting a Steve Erkle look to relieve the attention of his volleyball team whets the appetite for more. The reader will enjoy finding out that Dana Degan could portray a rather effective temptress, especially when the target was aged assistant softball coach John Nakamura; that 7-foot center Chris Botez enjoyed, at least on one occasion, hiding in a television box to pop out and frighten unknowing passersby, that young men tend to get a bit gassy following long flights and large meals, and that talented and that athletic women can unknowingly at times find themselves in less-than-ideal accommodations where the phones shut off at 10 p.m., rooms come fully equipped with vinyl mattress covers and are available at hourly rates.
Toth spends far too much time in decades-old play-by-play instead of identifying the instigator of the Spaghetti Factory proposal to former cross country runner Deanna Patacsil. This lack of detail is also found during the retelling of the Warriors’ manhandling of the No. 4-ranked Michigan State Spartans in 2005. The game was characterized by outstanding shooting from the Warriors and severe cramping that caused four Spartans to be pulled from the game.
The only player Toth identified was “Brown” - no first name given - and refers to another as “... their big guy.”
Such errors of omission are made worse in the days of instant information where an Internet search quickly reveals the downed players as Paul Davis, Drew Neitzel, Maurice Ager and Shannon Brown.
Let’s Go Bows! is an adequate but unfulfilling look at Toth’s long career at the university. Closer attention during the editing process could have eliminated some of the errors that detract from the final product, but the book remains a worthy read if for no other reason than the joy of nostalgia.
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