HIGH SCHOOL REPORT
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Aaron and his brother, Anthony, are two reasons why Waianae won the Oahu Interscholastic Association championship.
The play of Aaron and Anthony Robinson speaks volumes
WAIANAE volleyball is a white-and-blue flurry of digs, slams and perfectly delivered sets. What doesn't translate into statistics for the new Oahu Interscholastic Association champion is energy. Pure intensity, gathered into one unit, a force that overcomes Goliaths.
During the OIA final, Waianae celebrated with a lion's roar between every play -- even on Roosevelt's points. By the time Anthony Robinson spiked a kill from the back row and his brother Aaron dropped a dump shot, the stunned Rough Riders had lost their first set of the league season 25-16.
The rest of the match turned into a point-for-point battle won by Waianae for a two-game sweep.
"Our height doesn't scare anybody, so we'd rather be loud and irritating to get into their heads," said Anthony, the tallest of the Seariders at 5-foot-11.
"At the beginning, everybody thought it was embarrassing, but we found that if you're loud, it throws their game off," he said.
By rallying together, no one has time to dwell on a great play -- or mistake.
"It's a mental weapon. It's not disrespectful," coach Fulton Dela Cruz said. "It's a team game we play. A mind game."
Waianae enters this week's state tourney with a 14-1 record. For the Robinson brothers, the hardwood is where they usually get along best.
Tiana, Aaron and Anthony Robinson were born in California, but grew up in the islands.
Aaron and Anthony were toddlers when their mom, Buddy, divorced their father. Grandma, back home in Waimanalo, asked to raise the boys.
"I said, 'No,' " Buddy recalled.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Anthony Robinson slammed the ball past Pearl City's Jonathan Fukui in last week's OIA tournament game.
But she relented a bit, and Anthony, at 15 months old, became part of Grandma's household.
For seven years, he didn't see his siblings or his mother. Eventually, Buddy brought her family to Oahu for good.
"It was hard at first. He didn't really know us," Buddy said. "It's different when you talk to someone on the phone."
Buddy Hussey was a standout player at Kaiser back in the day and went on to play at San Jose State. The family was living in Wahiawa when she had her sons, then 8 and 7, try out for PAL volleyball.
"They were horrible," she said. "Nobody wanted them on their teams."
The following year, they stuck it out. By the time Aaron was 12 and Anthony was 11, they were transforming. Coaches suggested year-round club play.
Little did Aaron and Anthony know that The Bus would soon become their limousine.
Living with diabetes is a little more complicated for a scholar-athlete. Buddy worries about Aaron.
"I'm really scared for him to go away to college because he has to have (daily) insulin shots. I'm afraid he's not going to be able to take care of himself," Buddy said.
Aaron found out about his condition only after the family moved to Waianae in 2005. The Boys and Girls Club does health checks, and he found out just as he was trying out at Waianae.
"At first, you're still trying to break old habits: eating the wrong things like candy and drinking soda. But you get used to doing what you're supposed to do," Aaron said. "It's finding out how to control it."
In the offseason, three to five times a week, Aaron and Anthony board the Country Express and travel to Onipa'a Volleyball Club practice in town -- a trek of 1 hour, 15 minutes. Mom picks the boys up after work.
"They wouldn't be able to function without each other," she said. "They won't admit it, though."
With Tiana gone and serving in the U.S. Army, Buddy relied on her sons to lean on each other. By the time they began playing varsity ball, both were outside hitters, bickering under their breath at times.
Dela Cruz was an assistant at the time.
"I told our (head) coach (Georgieann Keiki), have both of them become setters so they couldn't grumble," he said.
Over the years, maturity has helped. So has the old-fashioned method of settling differences: video games.
"If we fight, we might not talk for a day," Anthony said. "But we wake up the next day and end up challenging each other in 'Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball.' "
Aaron, at 5-8, can play any position on the floor and shares setting duties with Desmond Dela Cruz. Anthony shot up 3 inches over the summer and is now one of the top hitters in the OIA.
They've matured in the classroom, too. Anthony, a junior, has a 3.3 grade-point average. Aaron has a current GPA of 4.0 and a cumulative of 2.9. Academics and volleyball are on an even scale for him now.
"Last year, I had a problem with grades. I just wasn't doing the work. Lazy," he said.
It was enough for Keiki to cut Aaron from the team, good as he was. Eventually, Aaron saw the light.
Every day, Mom is up at 4 a.m. and en route to work in town every day by 5:30.
"He sees me struggling," she said. "He wants to strive for more. It's like a light bulb turned on."
Mother's Day came and went. For Mom, the greatest gift, besides a day of rest, is watching her children mature. Tiana, now serving in Afghanistan, helps out financially so her brothers won't have to work and quit playing volleyball.
The boys, plus baby brother Adam, do their chores and make Mom smile when she gets home at 7 p.m.
"They're making their own decisions," Buddy said. "They're making smarter decisions."