A group of "old ladies" is heading to Hilo, looking for some action this weekend.
None of them is past her mid-20s; and the action they seek is on the volleyball court.
They are Hawaiian Style Volleyball's Women's Open Team, and they're off to Haili's, or more formally, Hilo's 57th annual Haili Volleyball Tournament.
I got the lowdown on this contest from Kaimi Rocha, a member of the team who happens to live in our cottage with her mom, Georgie. She and her teammates, Kela Lau Hee, Dreanne Shaw, Yacine Meyer, Kalia Yasak, Brittany Awai, Sayble Bissen, Cassye Friel and Stephanie Dunn, have known each other since they were girls growing up on Maui.
"A lot of us were rivals at one time. Now that we're back together, we decided to make a team," says Kaimi, noting that all the girls went on to play in college before coming home and getting back into club volleyball. Under the coaching of Al and Sheryl Paschoal, the team members are now coaches of the younger players.
The "old ladies" played club volleyball as girls. The last time they competed in Haili's, "we were playing the 12s (age group)," she said. "That was 12 years ago." Playing with the club in high school also got them to a tournament in Las Vegas, where college recruiters could see them. Many of the girls got scholarships from that exposure.
They recently presented an exhibition match between BYU-Hawaii and Hawaii Pacific University in the King Kekaulike Gym as a fundraiser for the upcoming tournament. Haili's has nine teams competing Thursday through Saturday. It's pool play, then it goes to brackets. Gearing up for tournament play, a lot of local male players have shown up to scrimmage with them.
These former rivals are now "best of friends," says Kaimi. She wasn't making predictions for the tournament, other than to say, "We're a pretty competitive group of people. We're working hard."
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A different sort of competition grabbed my attention Saturday night when KHET presented a live telecast of the Hawaii State Spelling Bee. How do you spell heart-pounding? Fourteen extremely poised students in grades 4 through 8 not only demonstrated their way with words, but put on a very entertaining show in the process.
Maui had two competitors in the contest - Kamalii Elementary School 4th-grader Paul Yamane was the youngest in the field. And Emmanuel Lutheran 6th-grader Ameera Waterford was the most fun to watch.
Spelling bees have yielded some memorable movies in recent years, and Saturday's contest played out like one. I was not only cheering for the home team, but appreciating the cinematic mix of tension and comedy, too. The kids demonstrated remarkable composure and concentration - especially for some of us older watchers (not to mention English teachers) who would have been eliminated in an early round long before "punctilio." But then the contestants would do something reminding us they were still kids, after all.
The funniest moments were when they would finish spelling a word on a question mark, or would stand at the mic for a few beats after finishing, as though waiting for the hook. The eventual winner couldn't crack a smile, even after winning the whole thing.
Paul, 9, wearing a shirt and tie at the mic stand that dwarfed him, made it to round 8 with aplomb. Ameera, 12, survived considerably longer. With a spring in her step and a happy smile under a big halo of hair, she had personality to spare. She made it to the final four before being eliminated in round 16.
Considering that she's got two more years of eligibility, we may well be seeing her again. As they say in the biz, the camera loves her. She can take inspiration from KHET President Leslie Wilcox, who was hosting the telecast, who got her start competing in the state spelling bee, too.
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And in yet another form of competition, island-style, Brian Evans recently emailed from the Big Island to announce he's running for Hawaii's seat in the United States Senate this year.
Although he now lives in Orchidland, lots of us remember Brian from producing the Celebrity Series in Lahaina's Maui Theatre a few years ago. Brian displayed his talents as a Frank Sinatra-style crooner, sharing each bill with a long list of headliners, most notably William Shatner.
Now he's throwing his hat into the political ring, with the rallying cry, "People don't like to be told who their U.S. senator will be, and it's time someone just like them ran for office."
Let's see how that one goes.
* Rick Chatenever, former entertainment and features editor of The Maui News, is a freelance journalist, instructor at UH-Maui College and Emmy-nominated scriptwriter. Contact him at email@example.com or 344-9535.