SB FILE / DECEMBER 2003
Dalia Solia, with ball, realized the importance of attending classes during a suspension last year.
Solia back on track for junior season
She reclaims her spot on the team by getting her grades in order
Dalia Solia returned to the Hawaii women's basketball team this fall excited.
Campbell at Hawaii
When: Today, 7 p.m., and tomorrow, 4:30 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
Radio: Both games live on KKEA, 1420-AM.
Tickets: General admission. $7 adults, $5 seniors. UH students with valid ID and children 4-18 free.
Note: The Wahine basketball players will sign autographs for Kids' Club members after tomorrow's game in the Wong Hospitality Room.
The mistake she made a year ago -- not uncommon for student-athletes -- was rectified and behind her and the junior from Kaimuki High School was ready to be an integral part of the 2005-06 Rainbow Wahine.
Solia, who plays taller than her 5-foot-9 frame at times, has worked her way into being the first wing player off the bench. She even spent some of her 34 minutes on the floor in the post position in a win over Santa Clara last Saturday.
"Dalia can play all the spots. The last game (Santa Clara) she had to go to the post," UH coach Jim Bolla said. "We tried to go inside-out and weren't doing that early so I took Callie (Spooner) out and put Dalia in.
"Dalia jumps real well for her size and she has a knack for blocking a shot without fouling."
Solia averages 20 minutes, 4.7 points and 3.4 rebounds a game this season.
She did not make any recruiting trips although there was considerable interest from Maine, Eastern Kentucky and Alabama.
"At first I wanted to go away, but my mom (Leata) didn't want me to go. And UH was rushing, giving me deadlines to make a decision," said Solia, the first in her family to go to college. "I'm glad that I stayed here. My parents are getting old and I'm glad that I'm able to play for them."
She played in 26 of 28 games as a freshman, averaging 15 minutes and 3.3 points per game.
However, after seven games last year, she was suspended for not fulfilling team eligibility requirements.
"Basically, it was not going to class. Coach Bolla warned me once and I said OK, but I still didn't go to class. I got caught in my own wrongdoing," Solia said.
Call it a wake-up call, an eye-opener or whatever you like. Solia finally got the message that academics come first.
"My mom was really upset at me. She doesn't talk much when she is upset. She just cries. I was very sad and I really wanted to be on the court," Solia said.
She found the classrooms she was supposed to be in, didn't miss one class during the spring semester and compiled a 3.6 grade-point average.
"I wanted to show coach I could make good grades and get back on the team. Coach talked to me at the end of the season and asked me if I thought he should let me back on the team. I told him, 'Yes,' that I realized my mistake," Solia said.
Bolla said, "We had an agreement that she would just go to class, that we would sit down at the end of the year and she would tell me why she belonged back on the team. Dalia did what she had to do."
This fall she was back in uniform, back on the court, back doing drills, conditioning, the sprints, the mile run. That's what had Solia excited. OK, she hadn't played for a long time and it took a couple of attempts to pass the mile run, but she knew the plays and was ready to go.
"I set many goals that I want to accomplish. I write goals for a paper I have to do. For a game, like I'll put down seven rebounds," Solia said. "Goals give you a view of where you want to go. If you miss, that just means you have to work a little harder."
Solia talks to her mother every day for inspiration.
"She tells me to do good in school and to work hard in practice. She wants the best for me," said Solia, who also draws inspiration from her teammates and the fans.
When Solia is on the court, she does not show much emotion. Her stoical facial expression rarely, if ever, changes.
"I prefer to stay cool, focus and stay in control of my emotions. You can let the opponent get you out of your game. It messes everything up," Solia said.
She also shoots a very flat ball.
"It's always been that way. No one has ever tried to change me," she said.