Hawaii Grown Report

Hawaii's Brandon Brooks and Maureen Flanagan (inset) will be in the pool for the United States for the upcoming Olympic Games.

A taste of Aloha
at the 2004 Games

Hawaii could have three people in the water polo competition at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Brandon Brooks appears to be a lock as the starting men's goalkeeper; Maureen Flanagan is in the pool from which the USA women's team will be chosen and Aaron Chaney has already been selected to referee in Athens. Brooks and Flanagan both were All-Americans at UCLA last season.

Chaney's selection rewards his seven-year quest to earn the appointment from FINA, the international governing body of water polo.

The common thread among the three, in addition to being from Hawaii, is that all three learned the game from coach Ken Smith at Punahou School. Brooks and Flanagan graduated from Punahou in 1999 and Chaney in 1975.

Brooks' selection would continue a tradition of Hawaii having a player on the USA Olympic men's water polo team for the fifth straight Olympic Games -- all of them coached by Smith at Punahou. Chris Duplanty (Punahou '84) was a USA goalkeeper in 1988, '92 and '96, when he was team captain. Sean Kern (Punahou '97) , who had been national collegiate Player of the Year at UCLA, was a go-to scorer on the 2000 team in Sydney and Duplanty was an assistant coach.

Brandon Brooks

Unless he is injured, Brooks will be in the USA goal when the first ball is dropped into the water in Athens next August. Since he was named the starter at the World Championships in Barcelona in July, Brooks has played almost every minute of every important match.

Brooks lives in Long Beach, Calif., 10 minutes from the practice facility at Los Alamitos, where the team practices twice a day, plus weightlifting.

"This is definitely my life," until the Olympics, Brooks said. "We eat so we can play water polo, sleep so we can play water polo, everything we do is geared toward water polo. We are becoming professionals."

The players receive stipends of $900 a month, of which $625 goes for rent in Brooks' case. "We buy your own meals," he said, except when he is on the road with the team for tournaments.

"We don't live a glamorous life," Brooks said, "no shopping sprees, no vacation holiday travel."

But the incentive of playing in the Olympic Games makes up for it all.

"We are starting to get really excited for the Olympics," Brooks said. "This team has a lot of talent and cohesion and a great opportunity to do something spectacular and make all the work pay off."

Best Olympic finishes by the U.S. men's team has been second place (silver medals) in 1984 and 1988.

Maureen Flanagan

You could hardly celebrate your 22nd birthday any better than Maureen Flanagan did on Friday.

Flanagan, who is trying to win the final roster spot on the USA women's team for the 2004 Olympic Games, scored three goals as USA defeated eight-time world champion the Netherlands 10-6 at Mission Viejo, Calif.

But hours before that, Flanagan endeared herself to her USA teammates when she swam 100 yards in 54.6 seconds with no warm-up and no racing dive. She beat the challenge coach Guy Baker offered to get the whole team out of practice yesterday morning.

"She was a hero on two fronts," Baker said.

The four-game series with the Netherlands this week is Flanagan's first senior international competition and Friday's hat trick were her first goals.

Adam Krikorian, Flanagan's coach at UCLA, claimed she was the best defensive player in women's college water polo last season. Baker, wanting to improve his defense, added Flanagan to his roster soon after Worlds.

"She has good speed and she is aggressive," Baker said. "We can use her help on the perimeter."

Baker has 12 field players in his pool for 11 positions. "There are three or four players (including Flanagan) involved" in trying to earn the final roster spot, he said. Baker will make his final cut next May or June.

Aaron Chaney

Aaron Chaney gave up an 18-year career of teaching fifth- and sixth-grade mathematics at Iolani School to pursue the dream he has nurtured since 1996 -- being an Olympic Games water polo referee.

He moved to California in 2000 with his savings and his dream.

"My only chance for the 2004 Olympics was to move to Southern California (water polo's "home"), where I could referee every weekend and be part of the national teams' training and referee their scrimmages," he explained.

He also coached the girls team at Corona Del Mar High.

He was chosen to work the men's and women's world championships in 2001 in Fukuoka, Japan, and last summer in Barcelona.

He has tutored math students on the side to make ends meet.

Punahou coach Ken Smith is not surprised to see Chaney reach the top of his profession. "He has a pattern of total dedication and total perseverance to be the best he could at whatever he was doing," Smith said.

Chaney was the first player from Hawaii to play on an NCAA championship water polo team, at University of California-Santa Barbara in 1979.

"Even if I had not been picked for the Olympics, the three years I spent working for it were completely worthwhile and rewarding," Chaney said. "I was able to travel to tournaments without job restraints and I met people all over the world."


DeVey has adjusted
to Division I

Keith DeVey of Kula will be playing today in the NCAA men's soccer College Cup Round of 16.

Few people, least of all DeVey, would have imagined it when he showed up at Santa Clara University in California 16 months ago.

Even though he had been the 2002 Maui Player of the Year at St. Anthony High School, DeVey said he was "not recruited by anybody" and was "overwhelmed by the caliber of players" in Division I soccer.

But he walked on at tradition-rich Santa Clara, impressed the coaching staff with his conditioning and skills and was kept on as a redshirt last year -- practicing with the varsity but not playing in order to save the year of eligibility.

This season, he has become "one of better players on our team," assistant coach Eric Yamamoto said yesterday.

DeVey started seven games at left wing until a pulled left hamstring cut him down last month. Before his injury, DeVey scored three goals, including a game-winner, on 12 shots in 15 games.

"He was just starting to settle in and get in dangerous positions to become one of our most dangerous goal scorers," Yamamoto said.

"I can go at about 95 percent speed now," DeVey said. "I played 30 minutes and all the overtime" on Wednesday, when Santa Clara beat Loyola Marymount 1-0.

Although DeVey is becoming an important player for the Broncos, "I'm still a walk-on," he said Friday.

Santa Clara (14-3-4) plays Coastal Carolina, which is 20-2 and has won 13 in a row, today at storied Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara.

Chad Imhoff-Sils (Kamehameha '03) is redshirting in his freshman year at Santa Clara.

Creighton: Junior goalkeeper Andrew Brown (Mililani '00) stopped University of San Diego's fourth attempt in the tie-breaking shootout on Wednesday, and Creighton won the shootout 5-3 to win the second-round College Cup game.

Brown has gone all the way in two of Creighton's last three games and split time in the other, accounting for more than half of his minutes for the season.

Creighton plays at Virginia today in a round-of-16 game. Brown has allowed three goals in the equivalent of nearly five games, an average of 0.64 per game.

BYU: Sophomore Charlene Lui's Women's College Cup run ended yesterday in Brigham Young's 3-1 quarterfinal loss at Connecticut. Defender Lui (Punahou '02 of Waialae Iki) started all but one game for 16-7-3 BYU.


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