Tavana, Dacanay
among 12 inductees

The Nissan Hall of Honor also
adds Courtney Kessell and
Kyle Pape, among others

Vaafuti Tavana came to Hawaii from American Samoa with the wonderment and curiosity of a little boy.

Now on the threshold of adulthood, the Kauai senior was one of 12 student-athletes named to the 2005 Nissan Hall of Honor yesterday.

Tavana, a 6-foot-8, 255-pound standout in volleyball and basketball, towers over the group, but certainly isn't the only bright star. All 12 selections were made yesterday by a committee of high school administrators, athletic directors and media.

The other honorees were:

» Shanna-Lei Dacanay, Punahou. A second-team All-State selection in softball as an infielder, she excels even more so in basketball. The dynamic point guard helped the Buffanblu win two of the last three state championships, including the most recent one on Friday night. She will play basketball at Washington University in St. Louis next season.

» Spencer Hafoka, Kahuku. A first-team All-State wide receiver and one of the top hurdlers in the state.

» Jessica Hanato, Konawaena. Among the top basketball players in the state, she led the Wildcats to their first state title last year and a runner-up finish this season. She is also a standout in softball.

» Trenson Himalaya, Baldwin. The 6-foot, 220-pound athlete was one of the Maui Interscholastic League's top linebackers. He returned from an injury to help the Bears finish third in the state tournament. He was also a standout in track and field.

» Courtney Kessell, Kailua. From her first pitch as a freshman, Kessell dominated. As a senior, she won 16 games and struck out 177 batters. As a sophomore, she led the Surfriders to the state championship.

» Michael Kopra, Hawaii Prep. A tireless worker, Kopra played linebacker, kicked field goals and most impressively, was the key running back in HPA's offense. He was a first-team All-State pick, and also excelled in soccer. Recently, he helped Ka Makani reach the title game of the state rugby championship, though the sport is not sanctioned by the HHSAA.

» Tamari Miyashiro, Kalani. A first-team All-State selection in volleyball, Miyashiro may have been the most versatile player in the state. She also starred for three seasons on the basketball court.

» Kyle Pape, Iolani. The low-key leader of the Raiders' state basketball championship team increased his scoring average from 16 points per game to 31 in the state tournament. Voted Mr. Basketball, the 6-foot-1 guard was also a second-team All-State pick in volleyball. He will play at Colorado School of Mines next season.

» Brashton Satele, Pac-Five (Word of Life). The 6-2, 240-pound three-sport standout chose to stay in a smaller school, thriving year-round on and off the playing field. He has signed to play football at UH, though many Division I schools are in awe of his ability with the discus.

» C.J. Tausaga, Aiea. The school's senior-class president fared well in football and basketball, earning honorable-mention All-State recognition. A tenacious defensive back in football, he was part of Na Alii's Division II state title team in 2003.

» Fran Weems, Kealakehe. The affable three-sport standout was at her very best on the track. She won the 100- , 200- and 400-meter dashes at the state championships this year.

With a 3.7 grade-point average, Tavana is, perhaps, more impressive as a person than as a standout athlete.

"If you've spent any time around him, you'd get to see that side of him," Kauai boys basketball coach Brandon Fujita said. "Some kids have a chip on their shoulder and are real competitive, but this kid, I aspire my own children to become. I'm lucky. I'll probably go to my grave not coaching another kid as talented, humble and responsible."

Another unique neighbor island honoree is Hanato, who played bigger than her 5-foot-6 height.

"I'm excited. Stoked," she said.

Between school, athletics and being a normal teenager, Hanato always knew where her priorities were.

"I think it's harder trying to be a good student. It's easy to get carried away with social life, and sports is fun," she said. "When I was little, my mom used to tell me that if I didn't do my homework, I couldn't go to practice. My coaches at that time, I was 6 or 7, they knew if I wasn't on time for practice, it was cool because I was doing my homework."

Hanato, who has a 3.7 GPA, may play at Linfield next season.

In addition to the seniors, the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Foundation will honor four well-known figures in prep sports history at an awards recognition dinner June 5 at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel.

» Eddie Hamada, former Iolani football coach and athletic director.

» Larry Ginoza, former Waianae football coach and athletic director.

» Wally Yonamine, former Farrington football player.

» Charlie Wedemeyer, former Punahou football, basketball and baseball player.

Hamada and Ginoza are among the winningest coaches in Hawaii history.

One of Wedemeyer's teammates at Punahou, Norm Chow, will be the keynote speaker. Chow, a notable local legend in his own right, is currently offensive coordinator of the NFL's Tennessee Titans.

Angela Baraquio-Grey, Hawaii's Miss America in 2001, will be the mistress of ceremonies.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the HHSAA, which hosts and operates 25 state championships in 18 sports annually.

For more information about the awards dinner, call the HHSAA at 587-4495.

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