Standard of excellence


POSTED: Thursday, August 20, 2009

Never question that randomness has its reasons.

Dave Shoji is living proof that serendipity is just another name for fate.

During his freshman year at UC Santa Barbara, Shoji dropped by a gym to check out a volleyball tournament ... “;I couldn't believe how they could control the ball, even in a game of pepper, digging those hard-hit balls like it was nothing,”; he said. “;It really intrigued me. I sat down and watched.

“;That's when I fell in love with the game.”;

Volleyball has loved him back, turning the wannabe high school P.E. teacher into a coaching legend. Sometime during this, his 35th season at Hawaii, Shoji should become just the second Division I women's volleyball coach to earn 1,000 victories.

“;It's not something you think about when you're starting,”; said Shoji, who begins this week with 984 wins. “;If you're a young coach today, you wouldn't even fathom that number because of the nature of the game.

“;It's hard to get that many now, especially with the restrictions on the number of games you play. You'd have to win 25 games a year for, what, 40 years? There are a few more who will get to 1,000 but not many more after that.”;

Good friend and UCLA coach Andy Banachowski is already there (1,082). Penn State's Russ Rose, another good friend, should reach it by next season (963).

After that, it would take a John Dunning (Stanford, 676) or a Mary Wise (Florida, 659) more than a decade of 30-win seasons to reach the milestone. Will they stay that long? Will they want to?

“;Most of my friends in teaching are retiring, or have retired,”; the 62-year-old Shoji said. “;I never really gave it any thought about how long I was going to do this.

“;I was trained to be a P.E. teacher, that's what I wanted to do. I guess I started thinking of this as a career after we won the (AIAW) championship in 1979, when (UH) starting talking about making the position full-time.”;


In the 30 years since, the Wahine have won three more NCAA championships, finished second twice, tied for third three times.

There have been dozens of All-Americans, several national players of the year and a faithful following that has not only led the country in attendance since 1995 but also has made Hawaii volleyball a rarity: a money-making sport.

Individual awards have piled up for the former three-sport all-star at Upland (Calif.) High, from national coach of the year to a USA Volleyball All-Time Great Coach to coach of the NCAA 25th Anniversary Team. But just as he used to spread the offense as an All-America setter at UCSB, Shoji spreads the credit.

“;Every player who has been in this program has to share this with me,”; he said of hitting 1,000. “;Of course it's gratifying for me, but I'm not going to feel any different when it happens.”;









1 Oct. 29, 1975
 at UC Riverside, 15-17,16-6, 15-13, 15-11
100 Nov. 2, 1979
 at UCLA/NIVT vs. USC 15-4, 15-11
122 Dec. 8, 1989
 AIAW title, at Carbondale, Ill. vs. Utah State, 8-15, 7-15, 15-9, 16-14, 15-12
200 Oct. 29, 1982
 at Wendy's Classic, Stockton, Calif.
 vs. UCLA, 15-17, 15-9, 15-13, 17-15
221 Dec, 19, 1982
 NCAA title, at Stockton, Calif.
 vs. USC, 14-16, 9-15, 15-13, 15-10, 15-12
255 Dec, 19, 1983
 NCAA title, at Lexington, Ky.
 vs. UCLA, 15-13, 15-4, 15-10
300 Oct. 10, 1985
 vs. Pepperdine, 15-13, 9-15, 15-12
383 Dec, 19, 1987
 NCAA title, at Indianapols
 vs. Stanford, 15-10, 15-10, 9-15, 15-1
400Oct. 21, 1988
 at Wyoming, 15-6, 15-9, 15-9
500 Sept. 3, 1992
 vs. Houston, 15-6, 12-15, 15-10, 15-3
545 Oct. 7, 1994
 Final match in Klum Gym
 vs. New Mexico State, 15-10, 15-3, 15-6
550 Oct. 21, 1994
 First match in Stan Sheriff Center
 vs. San Jose State, 15-4, 12-15, 15-2, 15-6
600 Sept. 20, 1996
 vs. Fresno State, 16-14, 15-3, 15-9
700 Oct. 30, 1999
 at Fresno State, 15-3, 15-5, 15-10
800 Nov. 27, 2002
 at Utah, 31-29, 30-16, 30-18
900 Sept. 2, 2006
 vs. Colorado, 32-30, 30-23, 30-20
984Dec, 12, 2008
 NCAA regional semi, at Ft. Collins, Colo.
 vs. Purdue, 18-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-20