Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, June 27, 2002


has had big influence

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By Cindy Luis

In many ways, Marilyn Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano and women's collegiate sports graduated at the same time.

It was June 1972, and the 18-year-old Moniz had been accepted to the University of Hawaii following her graduation from Kaimuki High School. A few weeks later, the Educational Amendment Act was passed, a law that included a section simply known as Title IX.

Little did Moniz know that she, Wahine athletics and gender equity would be so intertwined. She was a member of the first Wahine intercollegiate volleyball program in 1974; she has been the assistant athletics director/senior woman administrator the past 13 years.

"The biggest change I've seen is in the number of opportunities for female athletes at the University of Hawaii," Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano said. "That and the level of support in terms of travel and uniforms.

"Back when I played, it was very, very basic. We were in the P.E. locker room, which doesn't exist now, and the offices for women's athletics was underneath the old pool. There was hardly any travel. There were tuition waivers, not scholarships, with the mainland athletes getting maybe an extra $50."

But, like so many of her generation, she didn't question the disparities between the women's and men's programs.

"We were just happy to play," she said. "We were grateful for the chance to represent the university. We didn't know anything more was possible."

Back then, Klum Gym was very crowded. After the men's basketball team finished its practice at 5 p.m., it was time for women's volleyball ... and basketball ... and gymnastics ... and men's wrestling.

"We shared the court with basketball," Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano said. "We had one half, basketball the other. In the corner was wrestling and gymnastics. The 'Quarry' as we called it, was quite the hubbub."

Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano, the mother of three young daughters, said she never envisioned that women's sports would become so popular. Her daughters have all been involved in soccer, basketball, volleyball and softball.

"The kids today don't know how it was back then," she said. "High school volleyball was very well coached, but it was one of the few sports for girls. I think there was also bowling, tennis, swimming and track and field.

"Kaimuki was the OIA champs in volleyball in 1971 and 1972, but I didn't think that after high school I'd play volleyball anymore. I was going to go to UH just for school. Not in my wildest dreams did I think there would be the opportunity to play in college. Not until (Wahine volleyball coach) Alan Kang walked into our gym at Kaimuki did I know about recruiting."

During her tenure, UH has added three new sports (soccer, sailing and water polo) and revived another (track and field). The final year of the six-year gender equity plan included a 30th anniversary celebration that jump-started a scholarship endowment program to help cover the cost of 105 women's scholarships.

The six-year plan was called "If You Let Us Play." The next phase that runs to 2007 is entitled "Just Do It."

The plan for the next five years includes increasing coaches' salaries, recruiting funds and support personnel (trainers, administrative assistants and track manager). It also means adding new women's sports: indoor track next season.

"And we'll look at sports that make sense for Hawaii," she said. "We need to look at judo, rowing and maybe revisit gymnastics. Wrestling is not an emerging sport yet at the NCAA level, but it will be a women's sport at the 2004 Olympics. We have great (female wrestling) talent in the state and it would be viable.

"We would like to add about 30 more athletic opportunities for our female athletes. I think it's an exciting time for women's sports at the collegiate, national and world levels. There's been tremendous growth in the past 30 years and I think you can expect that growth and interest to continue."

Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano feels she's been fortunate to have had the chance to play college volleyball. Her only regret is that the opportunity didn't come sooner.

"I do have regrets for the women who are 50 and older," she said. "I see them at games now, supporting their granddaughters. I feel for them. At least I had the opportunity.

"My other regret is that we at the university aren't able to do it as quickly as we should. The longer we drag on, that's one more day that another woman is unable to fulfill her dream. It's too bad we're still having to push things through.

"The thinking has changed in the last 30 years. Parents see the value of athletics for their daughters as well as their sons. When you play sports, you learn to perform under pressure, you learn teamwork. Those are values that stay with you the rest of your life."

UH Athletics

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