Wood settles on soccer to keep her in Hawaii
Lehua Wood says she was a real tomboy as a youngster and wanted to try everything.
Her parents, Marisa Agpaoa and Timothy Wood, introduced her to soccer at age 5.
Idaho at Hawaii
When: Today, 7 p.m.
Where: Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park Stadium
Series record: UH leads 1-0-0
Last meeting: The Wahine defeated the Vandals 1-0 on the road Sept. 7, 2001.
Notes: UH freshman goalkeeper Kori Lu is tied for first in the WAC with 54 saves. ... When the Wahine trail at halftime, they are 0-5 this season.
"My parents thought it would be a good idea," Wood said.
By the time she graduated from Kamehameha in 2004, Wood had been a competitive swimmer, wrestled at the intermediate level, ran cross country, played volleyball, won two letters as a kicker for the Warriors football team, been a member of two state girls championship basketball teams and earned four letters in soccer.
The national honor roll student had options when it came to choosing a college.
"My soccer coach (Michele Nagamine) talked to me about Santa Clara, UC Santa Barbara, Gonzaga and San Diego State. Tulsa offered to let me play both soccer and basketball, but when I heard UH was interested, I didn't even consider the other options," said Wood.
Clay Cockett, her basketball coach at Kamehameha, had made it clear to college recruiters that Wood was a soccer player and that was her interest.
When Nagamine told Wood that Hawaii was interested, that made the sophomore defender's decision easy.
"I love soccer so much. I'm really competitive and I have a very comfortable frame of mind with the sport since I've played since I was 5," Wood said.
"I always wanted to play here. My family is here and it is a very strong foundation. All my aunts and uncles are there to support me. My mom, who was a volleyball player, is there and tells me what I need to improve on after games."
Wood joined the Rainbow Wahine program last year as a recruit and earned a scholarship this year. She has started the last nine matches for UH at right back after seeing spot duty a year ago.
"Earlier this year she had a towering game. The next game she staked her claim to the position, made it her own," UH coach Pinsoom Tenzing said.
Wood's expectations as a freshman were to get a feel for how the Wahine program was run after playing for Nagamine for five years.
"I was playing for a new coach. I had to find out what he wanted from me, what he wanted me to do. I knew there were all senior defenders and that I would have to wait," Wood said. "Usually seniors don't pay much attention to freshmen, but they were very supportive. I think it made for an easy transition."
Always a defender, either on the left or right, Wood creates her own self pressure every time she steps on the field. This helps her stay focused.
"Lehua is very aggressive and strong in the air," Tenzing said. "She still needs to be a little more consistent, but I am very pleased with her play."
The Wahine back line, which includes Shawn Higa and Koren Takeyama, started playing as a unit last year in scrimmages.
"We felt a togetherness last year and developed good communication during spring practice," Wood said. "We're the last line of defense. There isn't much room for error. I love close games. It gets the adrenaline going."
Her biggest transition at UH was dealing with no rules about attending classes.
"I'm the type of person who needs those rules," said Wood, who made the adjustment and became a UH scholar-athlete.
She has two goals. One is to maintain a grade-point average above 3.0 and the other is to be on the first UH team to go to the NCAA tournament.
Today she will follow the same routine she has before every Friday match.
"I'll have lunch at Loco Moco and before the game I'll have a Jamba Juice with energy performance enhancement," said Wood, who waits until after the match for her evening meal.