Congratulations to Dave Shoji. Coaches everywhere celebrate with you.

Tonight’s a milestone for University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine volleyball coach Dave Shoji. Shoji will coach his 1,000th match with the Rainbow Wahine against Pepperdine in the second of a two-match series that promises to be an outstanding match-up.

I don’t write about sports that often, but this is a coaching story that is truly noteworthy, and coaches everywhere should be celebrating it. Two good stories in yesterday’s Honolulu Advertiser. This one by Ann Miller gives you all the magnificent stats:

 “Outrageous winning percentage (.850).” Percentage-wise, Shoji is the winningest active coach in Division I women’s volleyball.
 There have been 35 All-Americans on Shoji’s teams, who have taken Hawaii to four national titles and 25 20-win seasons.
 There has never been a losing season during Shoji’s tenure, and only one missed postseason.
 The Rainbow Wahine have finished in the top five in all but six of the 22 AVCA season-ending polls.
Read the full article.

Coaches everywhere know those stats are just the glossy surface of what Shoji’s coaching career means. Those stats don’t reveal the number of young women he has coached, the lives he’s touched. They don’t reveal the things he has taught them about their innate strengths in more than just athleticism. They don’t reveal the lessons he’s shared with them -and with their fans- in the Lōkahi and Kākou of teamwork, or in the Alaka‘i and Kuleana of initiative and personal responsibility.

It’s true that college sport coaches must win to keep their jobs and ever have a shot at reaching a milestone like this. But to me, the magnificent thing has been the extended reach of his coaching. Dave Shoji’s legacy is that he’s coached all of us who live here. Hawaii is the only place in America where volleyball is a revenue-producing sport, and where fans have been taught to know and appreciate great volleyball – they cheer the sport and the athleticism. Time after time you hear how much opposing teams love to play here, because if they play well they will be appreciated and applauded; it’s not a one-sided love-fest only for the home team.

Yes, “winning never gets boring.” And yes, you can’t discount the influence of UH men’s volleyball coach Mike Wilton, or of Hawaii’s media, whom have made UH volleyball their darling. But this is a day to give Dave Shoji the appreciation and recognition he’s due. In Miller’s story he says,

I like the meat of coaching. Making adjustments during the match, making the right subs and putting the right kids out there that give you the most chance of success ”the outcome in a lot of matches was not in question, but the quality of our teams kept my interest up. I wanted to see how good they could get.

Those are the words of someone with a passion for coaching. In an interview with the Advertiser’s Ferd Lewis, Shoji chose the Top-10 matches of his career based on the emotion involved, from elation to devastation. As Lewis said so well in starting his column,

Take a real good look Saturday as Dave Shoji coaches his 1,000th University of Hawaii women’s volleyball match. Applaud it. Celebrate it. Remember it.
Finish reading Ferd’s column here.

That $16 ticket at 7pm tonight should be the best deal in town.

Mahalo Coach Shoji, for the last 29 years you have given to coaching. I’ll be watching your 1,000th match from the Big Island tonight, celebrating every moment with you.


  1. says

    Aloha Rich, welcome to Talking Story; mahalo for reading.
    I haven’t heard of a book by Coach Shoji, but it sure would be a fascinating read! However I’ll check here in Hawaii with the local publishing association if anything is in the works and let you know if I discover it.
    A hui hou, Rosa