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HPU athlete praised for devotion, leadership

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


Coaches and friends of Kameron Steinhoff described him as quiet, humble and dedicated, and completely devoted to being a student-athlete.

"He was a great leader, never cocky but always confident," said current Punahou basketball coach Darren Matsuda, who was assistant in 2008 under coach Dan Hale when Steinhoff led the Buffanblu to a state title and was the state's consensus player of the year.

"I don't think anybody could ever say anything bad about the guy."

Steinhoff, a redshirt sophomore with the Hawaii Pacific University basketball team, died at the Queen's Medical Center on Tuesday night after a critical skateboarding accident in Kaneohe on Monday.

A family spokesperson said Steinhoff was admitted "with severe head injuries." An autopsy was scheduled for today, the city Medical Examiner's Office said.

Steinhoff, in his recently renewed driver's license, had listed himself as an organ donor and several organs were being harvested last night, the family friend said.

HPU Athletic Director Darren Vorderbruegge, who also was the Sea Warriors basketball coach this past season, said Steinhoff celebrated his 21st birthday on April 21.

The 6-foot-4 Steinhoff saw action in 27 of the Sea Warriors' 28 games, averaging four points and three rebounds a game.

Steinhoff had worked hard during spring practice and appeared poised to start, Vorderbruegge said.

"We all had high expectations for him," the coach said. "He already had accomplished much as a stellar player at Punahou. He had paid his dues here (at HPU)."

Vorderbruegge said the death is "so tragic" not only because of Steinhoff's athletic abilities, but because "he also was a tremendous student leader and student."

Hundreds of friends were at Queen's yesterday and Monday to show their support for Steinhoff and his family, he said. "He was loved by so many people."

Matsuda, the Punahou basketball coach, said Steinhoff never missed a practice or meeting. "He was an extremely coachable kid, someone everyone enjoyed coaching."

As the team's best player in 2008, Steinhoff had an outstanding work ethic and played through injuries. When he injured his spleen playing football as a senior and needed to have it removed, doctors expected him to miss at least part of the basketball season. Instead, he made an early recovery and didn't miss any action during Punahou's championship run that year.

He averaged 15.4 points a game, and was named the state's top boys hoopster by both the Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin. He was also the 2007-08 Gatorade Hawaii Boys Basketball Player of the Year, which recognizes outstanding athletic excellence, high standards of academic achievement, and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court.

Current University of Hawaii football and basketball player Miah Ostrowski, a teammate on several Buffanblu basketball and football teams, said Steinhoff was a determined player, recalling in the 2007 state tournament when his friend scored 28 points in a victory against Moanalua.

Punahou football coach and Athletic Director Kale Ane said Steinhoff visited his high school campus on Monday, only hours before he died. After a 20-minute talk-story chat during the middle of a busy afternoon for both of them, Steinhoff was on his way to visit the school librarian and other people who had influenced him.

"It was interesting that we got to have a chance to talk to him, and sad for us," Ane said.

Steinhoff's nickname was "Steiny" or "Kam" and he enjoyed body surfing, surfing and drawing, according to HPU's player profile. He was majoring in human resource management and had been recruited by Linfield College in Oregon, the University of Puget Sound, and Lewis and Clark University.

Police have initiated an unattended death investigation, which is standard practice when no officers are called to the scene — only paramedics were summoned to the Monday night accident. However, there is nothing to suspect anything suspicious, police said.

The HPU website said Steinhoff was born in Ewa Beach. He was the son of Shawn and Kathleen Steinhoff. Older brother Keoni Steinhoff played football at UH.

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