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Change of plans for Tuivai

Seabury Hall senior headed to HPU after shutdown of Notre Dame de Namur athletics

Seabury Hall’s Anau Tuivai, a two-time MIL Division II Player of the Year and four-time first-team selection, is headed to Hawaii Pacific University after her original choice, Notre Dame de Namur in Belmont, Calif., announced March 23 that it is not accepting new students and suspending athletics going forward. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Anau Tuivai’s life has changed quickly in the last couple weeks, but not all of it is because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Seabury Hall senior recently switched her verbal commitment for a basketball scholarship to Hawaii Pacific University after her original choice, Notre Dame de Namur in Belmont, Calif., announced March 23 that it is not accepting new students and suspending athletics going forward.

Tuivai, a two-time Maui Interscholastic League Division II Player of the Year and four-time first-team selection, had been in constant contact with NDNU coach George Puou about rumors concerning the school’s future.

At first, he was reassuring, but the message changed as March wore on.

“He said it was probably not going to close and he was going to keep me updated and let me know if anything changes he was going to notify me as quickly as possible, so he did,” Tuivai said. “It was really nice.”

Ferge

Contacts through her club team, Proformance Hawaii, led her to HPU.

“My coach Kyle Pape, he knew the coach from HPU, so he mentioned me,” Tuivai said.

Suddenly, she was headed from the Argonauts, who finished 9-19 this season, to the 29-1 Sharks, who were ranked No. 3 in the nation and set to host an NCAA Division II regional in Honolulu before the season was halted.

“This was definitely not planned, but I tried to keep all my options open,” Tuivai said. “I didn’t want to leave out any opportunity, but this was actually a blessing because now I’m closer to home but I still will be traveling to go play and do different things.

“It will be easier for my family. I can play in front of my family on Oahu. It’s just way nicer.”

The only player from Hawaii on the HPU roster in the 2019-20 season, Starr Rivera, is set to graduate.

The whole switch of teams took about two weeks. Now, the 6-foot-1 Tuivai will join a team that topped out with two 6-1 players last season: freshman Maja Leidefors from Sweden and sophomore Kaylee Berry from San Diego.

There could be a matchup of MIL bigs in the making with Kamehameha Maui graduate Kimani Fernandez heading into her junior season at Alaska Anchorage — the 31-2 Seawolves were in the HPU regional last month.

“It should be really fun,” Tuivai said. “I don’t know Kimani, but I remember watching her play. I don’t think I’ve ever played against her, but it should be really interesting, it should be exciting.”

Meanwhile, 2018 Baldwin graduate Angelle Ferge played two seasons of soccer for NDNU — she started all 17 games she played in in 2019 for the 5-9-4 Argos, collecting one assist and firing 33 shots in her last season. She started the final 10 games of 16 played as a freshman.

Ferge made the decision to give up soccer to transfer to the University of Hawaii at Manoa and concentrate on academics before the recent announcement about NDNU athletics.

“Throughout the year we have been getting emails about it and they were going to tell us if the school would stay open or not at the end of spring break,” Ferge said Friday. “So, we’ve been waiting for that, but I had already made the decision to stop playing soccer next year, so the news didn’t hit me as hard, I guess.

“I was already planning to transfer to Manoa, so I’m kind of fine on my end. Things are OK, so it’s not hitting me too hard.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

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