‘Rise of the Wahine’ entertaining and educational

  • Nick Celario

    Nick Celario

Thank you to Sally Cravens from TGI’s advertising department for letting me borrow her copy of “Rise of the Wahine: Champions of Title IX.”

I knew there was a recent showing of the documentary at Kauai Community College. I was surprised when my eye caught the side of the DVD cover showing the “Rise of the Wahine” title on her desk as I walked by going toward my desk.

Even though she hadn’t seen it yet, she was kind enough to let me borrow it for the weekend. Mahalo.

I had some, albeit limited, knowledge of of the University of Hawaii’s women’s volleyball team prior to watching the documentary.

I knew the school had won national championships in the past. Also, I was once told that a current member of Kapaa High School’s volleyball team, Rusdan-Rocket Ahuna, is related to one of the players that won a national championship for UH (thank you coach Kapule Kaona for confirming that fact).

As a sports writer, of course I know what Title IX is, but I was surprised to discover that people from Hawaii were part of Title IX’s beginnings.

It’s always good to learn new things.

Anyway, I finally got to watch it this past weekend, and I was thoroughly entertained. I found “Rise of the Wahine” enjoyable and informative:

w how Rep. Patsy Mink, the first Asian-American elected to Congress and co-author of Title IX, and Dr. Donnis Thompson, UH’s first women’s athletic director, worked together and became spearheads for women’s equality in and beyond athletics in the face of adversity

w the humble beginnings of UH’s women’s volleyball program and its triumphant victory to claim its first national title in the 1979, and how the program along the way gained a fervent fan following despite being hardly recognized early on

w the impact of Mink, Thompson and those early Rainbow Wahine teams on the university itself and the local sports community decades after Title IX became law

Even if you’re intimately familiar with the story, and I’m sure some of you are, “Rise of the Wahine” is still worth watching.

Whether you love sports stories or are not interested in sports whatsoever, watching this underdog tale is worthwhile. If you’re interested in sports history or Hawaii history, this documentary will fill a void.

“Rise of the Wahine” is an ace (pun intended).


Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or ncelario@thegardenisland.com.


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