Boogard’s brigade of 55 sees her final home game
THEY erupted when she was announced, all their arms raised at once, all their hearts leaping with the very same thrill: There she was!
It seemed like every seat in Section P was her personal cheering section. It looked like all of Bellflower, Calif., had come to the Stan Sheriff Center for the final two home matches of Susie Boogaard's Rainbow Wahine career.
They were 55 in all, last night. How exactly did Susie's dad, John Boogaard, know the precise number?
"We got tickets for them," he said, offering a proud grin. They've taken over an entire floor of a Waikiki hotel.
They were packed in thick, last night. There were three little girls, young and blonde, wearing leis on their heads down in front. They held up homemade lime-green Susie signs, and danced.
A cousin. A niece. An auntie's daughter. They were loving it, cheering for their hero and all her superhero friends.
They all did. Susie's boyfriend's parents flew in from Florida.
Who were they all?
"We're all cousins," one of them said.
"Friends," another explained.
And who were these people over here?
"My son and his wife," the man said.
"We dearly love the Boogaards," he said.
And then Susie's sister. And more cousins. And friends. And kids.
"Isn't this the greatest?" one of them said.
"We love it," Susie's boyfriend's mom said.
They carried on. They high-fived. They traded seats. They danced, having been seated right above the band. They chanted. They yelled. They wore leis. They paddled canoe to "Hawaii 5-0."
It was wonderful.
They were so excited they seemed to almost wilt by the third game of the night, having already given all the emotion they had in them to give.
The Wahine won again last night, of course. They beat the Western Athletic Conference's second-best volleyball team, New Mexico State, three games to two in a match that was easy, and then really, really tough. Boogaard had five kills.
She has just one home match left. Tonight, against Louisiana Tech. And then off to the WAC tournament, and into the NCAAs.
She'd arrived a Fab 50 recruit, but was never a star. Instead, she just did everything that was asked. She does a little bit of everything, actually. That's become her role.
She was the only Rainbow Wahine to play in every game during last season's magical 30-0 run.
Yes, she's been solid, these past two years.
She never seems to swing hard, but her ball gets there heavy. It explodes upon impact like a water balloon. It seems to saunter through the air and then arrive like a rock.
Last night was not her best match, no. She was not the star, again, not for most of the night. But she helped them win, again. She played tough defense, front and back. She even set, when called upon.
She was part of three massive blocks in Game 5 -- points 13, 14 and 15 -- that made the SSC shake.
What great plays.
And her Wahine won.
In the end, Boogaard and her teammates bounded together and hugged.
Her own personal brigade stood and went nuts. Everybody did.
Who were all these people?
"My brother, (his wife's) brother," John Boogaard was saying. "Cousins. Friends."
Fifty-five of them to see this. A whole hotel floor. They loved every minute, couldn't quite believe it.
"My niece," Susie's dad said. "My granddaughter."
When it was over Boogaard looked up at them all, waving as she and the team ran toward them and into the tunnel. They dropped leis down on her head.
"It's hard to believe it's over for her," her dad said.