A couple of coaches wanted to give local players a better chance at playing at the next level.
At the club’s first showing on the Mainland, the team made an impression.
Local club Ike Loa Volleyball Club competed in the Arizona Festival Volleyball Tournament in Phoenix, which ended July 1.
“I decided to start this club with (coach) Deej Peleras. I felt like there weren’t any clubs on Kauai that was geared toward college recruitment or playing volleyball after high school,” said club director Joshua Mecham on Wednesday. “We got some good ideas from the TAVA club on Oahu. My daughter and Deej’s daughter joined their club at the beginning of the season. They went to the Las Vegas Classic in February. Their coach and their club is really geared toward recruitment. … That inspired us to up our game.”
The all-Kauai girls team is comprised of high school players from Kapaa, Kauai, Waimea high schools and Island School. The team also has a couple of middle schoolers — one from Waimea Canyon and the other from Chiefess Kamakahelei.
Ike Loa competed in the U16s division and placed 10th out of 118 teams nationwide.
“One thing that other teams noticed was that our team was always smiling, even though they were losing or made a bad play,” Mecham said. “I had parents come up to me and said, ‘You guys are really cool. Your girls are smiling even though they messed up.’ I think the thing that really killed us at the tournament was endurance. The first two days, we were solid. By the third day, we were just tiring out. That’s one thing we want to get girls ready for a tournament that lasts more than one or two days.”
He added: “I’d say about half of the girls have been on the Mainland before for tournaments. We had a couple of eighth graders that it was their first time. This one, it was the first time where they were actively involved in calling coaches, emailing coaches. That adds another layer of the game. And, we had coaches watch us. We told the girls, ‘Hey. You’re not just playing for yourselves and your team. You could be playing for a scholarship.’ That made it more exciting, I think.”
Mecham added the club doesn’t just focus on volleyball.
“During the year, we would train them — what if a coach contacts you, these are some questions they might ask,” he said. “We did mock interviews. … We gave them some tips on how to act. They got to be confident, kind of sell themselves. We had them contact coaches, just as much recruitment stuff as we could.”
The club for now is in hiatus until the next Kauai Interscholastic Federation girls volleyball season ends in the fall. Mecham hopes to compete off-island again next year.
“We’re expecting to expand our club. I found a couple more coaches that pretty much have our vision in mind of making the girls better for college and not just for high school games,” Mecham said. “We’re definitely going to be opening up for more teams next year.”
Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.