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Snub on Shoji reflects poorly on Hall of Fame


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POSTED: Sunday, October 18, 2009

Somebody's got some explaining to do.

Why is Dave Shoji not in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame?

Are four national championships and now being one of only two coaches in the history of the women's college game with 1,000 wins not enough?

Sure, a lot of the victories have been three-set romps that take about as much time to watch as a “;Law & Order”; re-run. We know the WAC is far from the greatest volleyball conference in the nation, but how can anyone fault Shoji for that?

Maybe it bears repeating: four national championships, 1,000 wins.

The numbers and accomplishments are so ridiculously eye-popping and overwhelming, it's silly to have to make a case by adding anything else. But Shoji's consistency, character and impact on the sport as a teacher over four decades alone should also be recognized.

All from a prep football, basketball and baseball star who was teammates in the latter two with Rollie Fingers. Funny how things work out—Shoji topped Fingers for the Upland (Calif.) High School athlete of the year, but the future Oakland A's ace reliever made it to his sport's Hall of Fame first.

DOES SHOJI'S loyalty count for anything?

In the 1980s, Shoji turned down a job at a prominent mainland school that would have included a substantial increase in pay.

“;I thought about it for a week,”; he said. “;Then I came to my senses. It was more money, but it was not a place where I would want to live. It's a great institution, but not right for me.”;

Maybe if Shoji had made that move he'd have a higher profile now. Maybe UH would not be the program it is today, with consistently the highest attendance in the nation and never a losing season.

How about humility and appreciation?

Continuing on the theme that this man has never been about money, Shoji bought mementos of last night's 1,000th win for the fans, as a thank you.

There's another story of how Shoji, the coach of one of the few UH athletic teams to consistently turn a profit, refused to ask for a long-deserved raise until a coach of another team told him he had to—because if he as most deserving didn't ask, none of the others would ever have a case.

IT RIGHTFULLY bothers Hawaii fans that Long Beach State coach Brian Gimmillaro is enshrined, but not Shoji. Gimmillaro, who has amassed about 300 fewer wins and one fewer national championship, entered the hall last year, as did a player Shoji coached: Deitre Collins.

This year, retired Nebraska coach Terry Pettit got in—also with about 300 fewer wins than Shoji (694).

Penn State's Russ Rose (983) was selected in 2007.

I'm not saying they don't belong. But it amplifies the question: Where is Shoji?

He doesn't know, and doesn't think about it very often.

“;Well, the AVCA Hall of Fame is something fairly recent (2003),”; Shoji said. “;I wasn't really aware of it until recently. It's a lengthy process.”;

So is a 35-year career matched by very few of those enshrined.