[ UH VOLLEYBALL ]
Mike Wilton sees one of the most fiery players ever to wear a Hawaii uniform nearly every day. Tony Ching, who is finishing up his business degree, drops by the Warriors' practice on a consistent basis, not ready to give up that 6 a.m. workout routine in Gym 1.
In return, the Hawaii volleyball program doesn't want to give up on one of its own. Tomorrow, the Warriors host a benefit to help defray the medical expenses that Ching incurred after a near-fatal scooter accident in May.
The event will include a Green-White intrasquad scrimmage at 7 p.m. followed by a concert. Scheduled to perform are Sean Na'auao, Natural Vibrations and Next Generation.
UH men's volleyball
What: Hawaii intrasquad scrimmage
When: Tomorrow, 7 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
Why: Fund-raiser for former Warrior Tony Ching's medical expenses.
Cost: $3 UH students, $10 general admission, includes 9 p.m. concert with Sean Na'auao, Natural Vibrations and Next Generation.
Green (Coach Tino Reyes): Brian Beckwith, S; Matt Bender, OH; Dio Dante, MB; Jose Delgado, OH; Alfred Reft, L; Kimball Taylor, OH; Delano Thomas, MB; Kimo Tuyay, S.
White (Coach Aaron Wilton): Pedro Azenha, OH; Matt Carere, OH; Ari Jeschke, OH; Ryan Woodward, OH; Josh Stanhiser, MB: Maulia LaBarre, MB; Daniel Rasay, S; Eric Kalima, L; Jake Muise, L.
Ching underwent surgery on May 23 to relieve swelling on his brain. He had also suffered a punctured lung and injuries to both legs and his left arm after his scooter was sideswiped by a car several blocks from the UH campus.
Deciding to use the scrimmage as a fund-raiser was an easy decision, said Wilton, who is beginning his 12th season as the UH coach.
"The bills are real high and I don't know if the person who hit him's insurance covered even a 10th of the cost," said Wilton. "We miss him and what he gave to the program. It's nice that we can help the family. It's going to be good volleyball and a lot of fun. We're hoping for a big turnout."
The Warriors are rebuilding after the loss of Ching and three other starters from last year's team: NCAA Player of the Year Costas Theocharidis, Eyal Zimet and Brian Nordberg. Fall practice has gone well, according to Wilton, as he tries to work in a number of new players.
One of the standouts is Maulia LaBarre, a 2001 graduate of Roosevelt High, who has returned after serving his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The 6-foot-7 LaBarre "is our best blocker at the moment," said Wilton. "He and Dio (6-7 redshirt freshman Dante from Maui High) are doing very well.
"I'm very pleased with the team's work ethic. They're working really hard. I like this bunch. We're learning and progressing."
What hasn't progressed is a decision on whether Hawaii will retain its 2002 NCAA national championship, the only men's title the school has ever won. The paperwork was sent in last month, with the full NCAA appeals committee to hear the appeal sometime next month.
At issue is Theocharidis' participation in a pro league in his native Greece. On Sept. 5, the university was told that it would have to forfeit the title for using an ineligible player (Theocharidis).
The decision was based on a rule that has been in the NCAA bylaws but wasn't enforced. The enforcement date began Aug. 1, 2002, some three months after Hawaii won its title.
The rule prohibits athletes from participating in events as a member of a professional team, even if the athlete in question did not get paid. Questions have been raised over the arbitrary application of the rule, considering that amateur golfers, such as Hawaii's Michelle Wie, are allowed to participate with professionals without a penalty or that a college athlete is allowed to play professionally in one sport but retain amateur status in another.
"I'm longing for a decision that doesn't cause cognitive dissonance," said Wilton. "The (pro league participation) rule was applied as of Aug. 1, 2002. I don't understand how they can go backwards in time to apply it to the previous May (when UH won the title).
"If you're going to go backwards in time, then you had better check every school in every sport in every year who has used a foreign player. I'll be interested to see what the decision is. I think our cause is just. The other decision makes no sense to me."
Prior to Thanksgiving, the Warriors will do their annual preseason island-hopping tour with matches against George Mason on four islands. The first exhibition with the Patriots is Nov. 19 at the Stan Sheriff Center, followed by matches at the Hilo Civic (Nov. 20), Wailuku's War Memorial Gym (Nov. 21) and Molokai High (Nov. 22).
"The island-hopping is really enjoyable," said Wilton. "We get a lot of love from the outer islands. We enjoy taking the show on the road and we have been treated so well.
"The first year, I was a little surprised by the reception, but not now. And after talking to George Mason, they think they're hoping to be able to compete with Penn State for the (Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association) title. It's going to be some really good volleyball."
Tomorrow's match will go three games. The only player not expected to participate is senior setter Kimo Tuyay (sprained ankle). Setting for the Green will be 6-6 freshman Brian Beckwith, while the setter for the White will be 6-2 junior Daniel Rasay.