LIFE is a beach. Or so Chastity Nobriga had hoped.
Nobriga is back
where her heart
says she belongs
But after living on the mainland the past two years, hoping for a women's pro volleyball tour that was more promises than playing time, Nobriga is back home. The former utility player for the University of Hawaii Wahine volleyball team is pursuing her other love -- helping others -- while waiting for the pro beach situation to stabilize.
"My dream was -- is -- to play professionally on the beach," said Nobriga, who played for the Wahine from 1992-96. "I wanted to become as good as I could become. I think I did pretty well, but never could finish higher than third. And, when you're ranked 23rd and they take just 16 or 20 teams, it gets frustrating."
Nobriga lived with friends in Hermosa Beach, Calif., while waiting tables and waiting for opportunities. Her timing couldn't have been worse.
She played in two leagues (six-man indoor and four-man beach) that went bankrupt and a third (WPVA beach doubles) that has been struggling. Sponsorship was hard to come by. Companies were reluctant to take a chance on an unknown player who would have limited exposure in a league that kept canceling tournaments.
The biggest lesson she learned?
"I missed Hawaii too much to not live here," the 25-year-old said. "What I decided to do was move back home and fly back to the mainland for tournaments. If there are only going to be four stops on the tour, why live there all year?"
LOCAL pros Karrie Triesch-man Poppinga and Janice Harrer have proved that trans-Pacific commuting is possible; the successful pair live and train on Oahu, flying to various tournaments.
For now, Nobriga has decided to continue playing the local circuit and find work that would allow her to travel next year. The former Oahu Queen of the Beach is expected to begin her coaching career with the Punahou School intermediate team this fall while hoping to also find work as a youth counselor.
"I love working with kids," said Nobriga, whose degree is in psychology. "I want to coach, give back to the community and contribute to Hawaii's youth. So many people helped me when I was young and starting out playing."
Nobriga began her volleyball career with Kamalii Volleyball Club as a setter/back row specialist for three years. A growth spurt (she's now 6 feet tall) put her in the front row full time by the time she was in eighth grade. She ended up setting for Pearl City High but played right-side for the Wahine, finishing her career on the 1996 NCAA runner-up team.
"Beach volleyball is so different from the indoor game," she said. "You have to be good in every aspect of the game. You're only as good as your worst player and, with just two of you out there, you have to be able to do everything. Ball control is so important.
"I love playing on the beach, just the overall aspects of the game. It's what I want to do for as long as I can do it. I'm not going to quit trying."
Nobriga won more than half a dozen local tournaments with former Wahine teammate Robyn Ah Mow. Ah Mow is training with the U.S. national team but the plan is for them to team up again after next year's Olympics.
Nobriga spent last week helping out at the UH summer volleyball camp. "It just inspires me," she said. "It reminds me of when I was young. I see so much potential in them. I want them all to know that you can go places with volleyball."
Cindy Luis is a Star-Bulletin sportswriter.
Her column appears weekly.