POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Dec 17, 2010
Rainbow Wahine coach Dave Shoji joined a few of his friends at "the pinnacle of success" in his profession yesterday when he was inducted into the American Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Hawaii's most successful and celebrated coach was announced as part of the eighth Hall of Fame class in June. The ceremony is held annually in conjunction with the NCAA final four. The 3-hour plus Coaches Honors Luncheon honored those who had achieved milestones at all levels along with the 2010 Hall of Fame Class, in the Kansas City Convention Center's Great Hall.
Shoji spoke for eight minutes, thanking Hawaii fans and players, his coaching contemporaries and mentors, and his family.
He also told the story of how he started in the sport in 1965. Shoji was on a baseball scholarship at UC Santa Barbara when he walked into Roberston Gym and saw volleyball for the first time.
He was intrigued by the skill level of the athletes warming up on three courts. He would learn many were volleyball legends. He was hooked. He took a volleyball class from Dennis Berg and three years later he was an All-American. As a senior, Shoji was basically the Gauchos' player-coach.
In Wahine volleyball's second year (1975) he became the program's second coach. By 1979, the part-time coach won a national title. There would be three more (1982, '83 and '87).
Last year Shoji, 64, became the second head coach in NCAA Division I women's volleyball history to win 1,000 matches and was AVCA national coach of the year a second time. His teams have been ranked in the Top 10 for about 85 percent of his career.
In Shoji's eyes, his greatest accomplishment has little to do with winning, though he would already be retired and on a golf course full-time without it.
"Lasting 36 years in one job is pretty unheard of," Shoji says. "And still enjoying it. When I talk to anybody, it's about, first, having a passion for what you are doing. I ask a lot of people, do you look forward to going to work or do you just go to work?
"Find something you really like to do. If you make a lot of money, great. If you don't, great, too, as long as you like what you're doing. I liked it when I wasn't making money. I like it just the same in the current situation."
Shoji's wife, Mary, daughter Cobey and a few mainland relatives attended the luncheon, along with UH senior women's administrator Marilyn Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano. They suffered through Kansas City's frigid weather to honor him for much more than being in Manoa for 36 years. They spoke of his ability to develop players, coach games and, basically, win for 36 years.
"His ability to sustain the level of his program over the years might be his greatest accomplishment," Mary Shoji said. "Being able to compete in the Top 10 year after year after year is an amazing accomplishment."
Shoji's induction class also included former national team, Brigham Young and BYU-Hawaii coach Carl McGown; former Community Colleges of Spokane coach Irene Matlock, and net system Sports Imports, Inc. There are now 52 in the AVCA Hall of Fame.
USA Volleyball named Shoji an All-Time Great Coach in 2002. He is in the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame and was coach of the NCAA 25th Anniversary team.