Hawaii’s Circle of Honor gets stronger with induction of new class
Angelica Ljungquist and Robyn Ah Mow-Santos join three others in the university's elite group
If actions speak louder than words, the University of Hawaii Sports Circle of Honor Class of 2005 has reached a rock concert-like decibel level.
The five newest members excelled when representing UH in athletics and went on to continued success in their professional and personal lives. Baseball player and coach Toku Tanaka, football coach Dick Tomey, running back Larry Sherrer, and volleyball All-Americans Angelica Ljungquist and Robyn Ah Mow-Santos will be formally inducted tonight during halftime ceremonies of the Hawaii-San Jose State basketball game at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The five were honored during a luncheon yesterday at sponsoring Bank of Hawaii.
A former player, Blane Gaison, introduced Tomey. Gaison, now the athletic director of Kamehameha Schools, was preparing to transfer before Tomey was hired in the summer of 1977, just weeks before fall camp.
"I was a disgruntled freshman, headed to Boise State," Gaison said. "There were a number of us thinking about leaving when (Tomey) came into the UH dining hall and talked about being part of something great."
Tomey helped turn around a struggling program, overseeing the move to the Western Athletic Conference from an independent. During his 10 years (1977-86), UH earned its first national ranking, debuted on national TV and sold out Aloha Stadium for the first time.
Tomey remains the winningest coach (63-46-3) in school history. He coached at Arizona, Texas and the San Francisco 49ers, before taking the job at San Jose State last season.
"It's always a pleasant surprise when something like this happens," Tomey said of his induction. "It's such an honor. And to have someone who was there on my first day here (Gaison) ... he knows. It blows me away."
Tomey and Tanaka have one other thing in common besides their induction. Both batted against the late Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige.
Tanaka's at-bat came during a stop in Honolulu by a Major League all-star team en route to Japan. Paige had heard about Tanaka's batting prowess and bet him a beer Tanaka would not be able to hit one of his pitches; Tanaka never made contact in three swings.
"But I think the one who gave me the best advice was Enos Slaughter," Tanaka said of playing against another Hall of Famer. "He told me how to play the game."
Tanaka's UH career including playing in 1941 and 1946-48 as well as serving as the volunteer coach from 1950-51 and 1955-60. He was an outstanding player in local leagues and is credited with getting the UH baseball team its first tuition waivers.
Sherrer, an ophthalmologist on Kauai, played football and ran track (1969-71). He was the first UH player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a single season (1,129 in 1971), played in the 1972 Hula Bowl and held all of the school's rushing and scoring records after his three varsity seasons.
"There are a lot of memories from just a short part of time of my life," Sherrer said. "I have to thank my offensive line. And I'm forever indebted to those who blocked for me, on and off the field."
Sherrer's injury-plagued pro career included stints in the Canadian Football League, where he scored the game's only touchdown to give Montreal the Grey Cup. The Oklahoma native has long been known for his philanthropic work, from volunteering at clinics in Brazil to giving free eye exams and glasses during the holidays on Kauai.
Ah Mow-Santos and Ljungquist were unable to attend this week's festivities as both are playing professionally in Europe. The two were teammates from 1993-96, capping their senior season as the Rainbow Wahine finished second to Stanford for the NCAA title.
Ah Mow-Santos, a McKinley High graduate, was a two-time All-American setter (1995-96) for the Rainbow Wahine and ranks second in single-match assists and career assists. She is also a two-time Olympian (2000 and 2004) and hopes to make the U.S. team again in 2008.
Ljungquist, the third Swede to play for Hawaii, is the school's first four-time All-American. She was the 1996 National Player of the Year, the Honda Award winner as the top women's collegiate volleyball player and won the Stan Bates Award as the Western Athletic Conference's top scholar-athlete. Ljungquist still holds three career records: block assists, total blocks and hitting percentage.