Higher Education In A Sandbox
Wednesday - September 28, 2011
It’s not often that somebody will talk about the benefits of playing in a sandbox. But this isn’t your average, run-of-themill sandbox.
Alika Williams comes from one of the top volleyball families in Hawaii. His uncles Tony and Chris Crabb were outstanding volleyball players and coaches; his cousin Lindsey Berg is currently the setter for the U.S National team; and another cousin, Taylor Crabb, is one of the top current players in NCAA Division I volleyball.
“With all the volleyball in our family, it’s fitting that I’ve turned it into a business,” Williams says.
His business is called Hunakai Hi Performance and it’s all about sand volleyball.
A few years ago, after playing at Punahou, UC Santa Barbara and then a few seasons on the AVP professional beach volleyball circuit, Williams came home.
“I started coaching a little at Outrigger, and before I knew it, some parents were asking me to help them with their kids,” he recalls. “Word spread quickly, and then people who weren’t associated with the club started contacting me. Pretty soon, I realized that we needed another space to play.”
That space turned out to be in Kahala.
“They’ve got a private park there called Hunakai Park, and I talked with the people there, and they let me build a court as long as I paid for the construction costs. I like to say it cost about $12,000-$15,000 to build a sandbox in the park.”
That professional-dimensioned “sandbox” was ready by the end of 2009, and Williams’ sand volleyball business at Hunakai Park began in January 2010.
Within a few months, he was coaching and working with some of the top young volleyball prospects on Oahu. His clientele has included many all-state players and several NCAA Division I prospects.
“The cross training of two-ontwo sand volleyball really helps indoor skills,” he says. “You’re in on every play and get so many touches. It helps with every aspect of the game speed, quickness and anticipation.”
One of the testimonials on his website, hunakaihi.com, was sent in by a parent from Michigan who said her family has spent thousands of dollars sending daughters to volleyball clubs.
“Many people didn’t understand why I chose to fly all the way from Michigan to Hawaii for 10 days of sand training, but the results are now tangible,” writes Paige Pualani Gabel, whose daughters had just made their high school teams as a sophomore and freshman. “Over the past four years, I have spent $10,000plus on club volleyball for the girls with marginal results. Training at Hunakai Hi Performance was the best investment the training was worth the nine-hour plane ride!”
Other parents noted Williams’ gifted style and personable instructions. All of the testimonials glowed about the results they had witnessed in Williams’ “sandbox.”
“Hopefully, we’re making a difference,” Williams says. “With the emergence of sand volleyball as a new NCAA sport, now is the time to make something like this grow.”
Hunakai Hi Performance has become a year-round business.
“We work around the kid’s schedules weekends, Sundays we work with them when they’re available.”
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