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Tamari Miyashiro comes from a family of athletes -- her mother Joey played volleyball at UH, father Gordon is athletic director at Kalani and was a standout lineman at Farrington, sister Tehani starred at Punahou, brother Imai played football at Saint Louis and brothers Ainoa (volleyball, Kamehameha) and James (football, Kalani) are also involved in sports.
Tamari Miyashiro leads
a seasoned Kalani girls volleyball
team in pursuit of OIA title
By Jack Danilewicz
Special to the Star-Bulletin
The breathtaking pace of a typical volleyball practice at Kalani High School is a perfect fit for Falcon standout Tamari Miyashiro.
But work ethic alone can't sufficiently explain the junior outside hitter's mastery on a volleyball court. If anything, it is a natural gift for concentration that fuels Miyashiro's endless pursuit of reaching her full potential. The best, she hopes, is perhaps still to come.
"I'm all for improving -- I'm constantly thinking about how to get better and working hard, period," Miyashiro said. "When I'm playing, I take everything outside of volleyball and leave it off of the court. Honestly, I don't think I've come close to playing my best game yet."
That can only come as bad news for Kalani's opponents. Indeed, as the Oahu Interscholastic Association volleyball season approaches its second weekend, Miyashiro and the Falcons are already hitting their stride. Saturday afternoon in Kahuku, they started the regular season with an impressive 25-17, 18-25, 15-6 win over the defending state champion Red Raiders with Miyashiro tallying three of the last five points in the match.
Her performance came as no surprise to Kahuku coach Mona Ah Hoy, who has watched her play the past two years while coaching the Red Raiders to the last two OIA titles.
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Tamari Miyashiro led Kalani to victory in its OIA season-opener against defending champion Kahuku.
"As a setter, she's one of the best I've seen in the state, and she's improved her all-around game," Ah Hoy said. "As I've said all along, she's an excellent player."
It is perhaps a sign of Miyashiro's versatility -- and Kalani's overall depth -- that she is being used primarily as an outside hitter this fall. Since taking up the sport in fourth grade, she had been a setter much of the time.
"I'll do whatever the team needs me to do to help us become the best team that we can be," Miyashiro said. "I'm not going to set when we have other people here who can do the job."
Should she fulfill her goal of earning a Division I volleyball scholarship, she admits she would probably be shifted back to the setter position. But that is all part of the future.
For the present, she is the leader of a seasoned Kalani team that also features veterans in setter Marisa Okamoto, outside hitter/defensive specialist Dara Waialae, and defensive specialist Keri Hee.
"She's inspirational to all of us," Waialae said of Miyashiro. "She pushes us to get the most out of what we have."
"There's so much dedication among all of us and such a positive attitude that a state championship is in the picture (as a goal)," Miyashiro added. "But to get there, you have to do well in your regular season first. It's one game at a time for us, and we have to play every game like it's our last. Everyone is so competitive here, especially in the East. We never dwell on the last game, whether good or bad."
Tamari's success in volleyball can be traced back in part to her family background, which could not have been more ideal, as academics and athletics have always co-existed nicely in the Miyashiro household. Her father, Gordon, is Kalani's athletic director. Her mother, Joey, played volleyball at UH and is the Falcons' junior varsity coach. She teaches special education at Kaimuki Middle School during the day.
Tamari's older sister Tehani starred at Punahou before attending UH on a volleyball scholarship and was also Kalani's coach for two years, including last season when the Falcons were the OIA's Eastern Division regular-season champion and the OIA runner-up to Kahuku. Older brother Imai played football for Saint Louis. Another older brother, Ainoa, plays volleyball for Kamehameha, which won the boys' state championship last year, while the youngest of the family, James, is currently starting at running back for the Kalani varsity football team as a sophomore.
"My whole family was involved with volleyball, so that made it (come) easy," she said.
"They've all had an effect on me."
According to Kalani coach Aven Lee, Tamari spent enough time in gymnasiums that she practically learned to count on a scoreboard.
"She's been in the gym since we were all playing," said Lee, a former volleyball player at UH who is also Tamari's cousin. "She knows where she wants to go, and she knows she has to work hard to get there. And she has a really good work ethic."
Her workmanlike approach was also learned at home.
"On the weekends, I wake up, work around the house, do my homework, then I eat, then I do whatever I want afterward," she said. "It's never sit-around time and watch television. I'm usually doing something. Watching TV is always my last option. I don't watch TV except for the news and some beach volleyball.
"If you want something to do, you can't wait for other people to do it for you," she continued. "You get it done yourself. It's the same way with volleyball. If you want to get better, you take the initiative yourself. Your actions will always speak for you."