looks back, ahead
The former Rainbow Wahine
wonder girl has many choices
in her career path
By Cindy Luis
Play professionally indoors or try qualifying for the Swedish Olympic team in beach doubles. Go to law school or expand on her political science degree and go into international relations.
At 27, Angelica Ljungquist has a world full of choices. And the time to decide which way to go.
At some point, it will include a return to the islands.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Angelica Ljungquist: "It may sound stupid, but every time (I visit), it's like coming home
"I love it here and I miss it so much," the former Hawaii All-American volleyball player and the 1996 NCAA Player of the Year said. "It's a hard place to leave. I miss it like you wouldn't even know.
"Stepping off the plane, taking a deep breath, smelling the flowers. ... There is nowhere else in the world like Hawaii. It may sound stupid, but every time, it's like coming home."
Ljungquist, taking a break from the Italian pro league, tries to visit Hawaii every year. She missed last year's trip but more than made up for it over the past two weeks.
She took in the Wahine's exhibition victory over Stanford on April 26, took her mother and sister to the Arizona Memorial, congratulated the Rainbow basketball coaches on a great season and played tourist on the North Shore. Last Thursday, Ljungquist was one of three volleyball players honored as the "all-time best" at the 30-year celebration of Wahine sports at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Her name is etched firmly and deeply in the record book, in both single-season and career categories. Kills, blocks, aces and digs, she left her mark during four years, a 110-20 record -- 66-4 her final two seasons -- and an NCAA runner-up finish in 1996.
"The past five years have gone by just like it was yesterday," said Ljungquist. "And what I'll be doing five years from now, I have no clue. I'm thinking about going back to school, but that's going to be difficult. There are so many things I'd like to study. I don't know what I would choose.
"I'm learning Italian, but I'd like to study it properly. Then I could use it in some sort of international relations, use my experiences of living in different countries and cultures. But, for right now, I am taking the summer off and relaxing. I haven't decided if I'll return to Italy. I'll wait for August and see what the offer is."
Ljungquist started her pro indoor career in Brazil in 1998, then went to a Turkish team in 1999 and to a team in southern Italy in 2000. Last season, she played for Famili Imola in northern Italy.
There were three other former Wahine in the Italian pro league last season: Heather Bown, Therese Crawford and Robyn Ah Mow, the latter who was the All-American teammate of Ljungquist's at Hawaii.
"It's pretty awesome," said Ljungquist. "That should say something about our program. It's really good to see a familiar face, talk some English. But it is weird playing against Robyn."
When Ah Mow was injured in a car accident in January, Ljungquist heard about it when she walked into the weight room.
"They said, 'Did you hear about the accident with the American, the setter?' " Ljungquist recalled. "It was awful because we didn't know if she was OK. I called her cell phone and she answered in the hospital. All I said to her was, 'Thank God. I just wanted to hear your voice.'
"I didn't get to see her, but I did talk to her every day."
Ljungquist will spend some time with the Swedish indoor volleyball team this summer. She knows that her only chance of getting to the Olympics, however, is in beach doubles.
"I have a new partner and we're going to play some on the Swedish tour," she said. "We'll see if there's a possibility to be good. If we are, then we'll give it a serious shot next summer and try to play in the FIVB."
Ljungquist hopes to come back in September to see the Wahine play.
"It was such a short visit," she said. "I tried to meet with people, but I couldn't fit them all in.
"In Italy, volleyball is popular, but it's not like it's here, where people always recognize you. Nowhere is like Hawaii and I have a big desire to come back and live here again."
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