Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, October 10, 2001


Tamari Miyashiro is the Falcons' starting outside hitter
and also the sister of head girls volleyball coach Tehani
Miyashiro and daughter of the school's athletic director,
Gordon Miyashiro, a former All-Star guard at Farrington.

Building Confidence

First-year coach Tehani Miyashiro
has Falcons flying high

By Jason Kaneshiro

When Tehani Miyashiro took command of the Kalani High School girls volleyball team last summer, her first priority had nothing to do with digging, spiking or blocking.

"I wanted to improve their self confidence," said the Falcons' first-year coach. "Coming from a history of unsuccessful years, you need to build confidence in themselves."

The attitude adjustment has paid off as the Falcons, who suffered through a 2-8 season last fall, are now perched atop the Oahu Interscholastic Association East Division standings with a 6-0 record.

Along the way they knocked off traditional powers Roosevelt and Kahuku to move into contention for the division title.

"Last year since we didn't experience many wins, I just missed that feeling of winning so much," said senior middle blocker Liane Soto. "And to have it back again was just awesome, especially against those kinds of teams."

As the Falcons acclimate to the division's higher altitudes, they must also prepare for their toughest tests of the season.

The Falcons host winless Castle tonight, but face second-place Farrington (5-1) Saturday and defending OIA champion Moanalua (5-2) next Wednesday. They close the regular season Oct. 20 against McKinley.

While Kalani isn't blessed with dominating size or vast experience (two starters had never played the sport before this season), the key to the Falcons' success this season has been their refusal to allow the ball to touch the court.

"We work on defense every single practice," Miyashiro said. "Overall, I think we do less hitting than defense, because only a select few hit in the game anyway. Sometimes we have really bad practices on defense, but in the game they're terrific."

The emphasis on defense is fitting for Miyashiro, who was an All-Western Athletic Conference first-team selection as a defensive specialist in her freshman season at the University of Hawaii in 1997.

And in her first season as a head coach, Miyashiro is using a lifetime spent in the gym to help mold the Falcons into a winner.

"She gives us motivation, but she's strict at the same time," Soto said. "And we've seen her play at UH so we know she knows what she's talking about."

Coaching seems a natural progression for Miyashiro, whose roots are grounded in athletics.

Miyashiro, 22, is married to former Kahuku football standout Kaipo Fiatoa and has an 18-month-old son, Tausili. Her father, Gordon, is the Kalani athletic director and her sister, Tamari, is a starting outside hitter for the Falcons.

Her mother, Joey, is the girls volleyball coach at Kamehameha and her brother, Ainoa, is a setter for the Warriors' boys team. Her cousin, Linden Lee, is one of her assistant coaches.

Miyashiro's only previous coaching experience was an assistant to her mother with the Hapuna Rebels club team and at Kamehameha last year. But she said she doesn't spend much time trying to pick Joey's brain for coaching tips.

"It's not because I think I know everything," she said. "It's just I kinda want to do it on my own. But she offers advice and I take it."

But Gordon Miyashiro saw the makings of a quality coach in the years Tehani spent developing her game.

"Tehani had to work for everything she had," he said. "Tehani knows how to build because she had to build herself in every aspect of the game."

While Tehani knew how to teach volleyball skills, instilling the desire and killer instinct necessary to become a winning team proved to be a bigger challenge.

"I couldn't express how to have the attitude that you want to come into a game and be the best on the court," she said. "It was never taught to me, that's just how I played. It was hard for me verbalize that."

So on the advice of her father, Miyashiro put her ideas in print for her players to study and learn.

"With these girls its better if it's on paper," she said. "They're not park rats, they're more studious and can outsmart the enemy."

And along with her knowledge, Miyashiro would like to share something else with her players this season -- the exhilaration of postseason competition.

"I would like these girls to experience what they've worked for, to be playing against the state's best teams and just being in the atmosphere of good volleyball," she said. "They've worked hard to enjoy that kind of thing and they deserve the recognition."

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