Former UH volleyball star Sivan Leoni wants members of his conveniently located, community-based club to dream big
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 2, 2012
He hasn't told the story … yet.
But he will. Of how imaginary places and lofty dreams can become reality … with a price.
It will take hard work, ambition and drive. All the things that led Sivan Leoni to Hawaii to play volleyball nearly 20 years ago.
It was on the courts in Israel that Leoni and future Warrior All-American Yuval Katz played, where balls that were hit long and kept on rolling went to a place called "Honolulu."
LANIKAI ATHLETIC CLUBJunior volleyball
» Girls Under-12 through U18
» Boys Under-13 through U18
» Co-ed Ages 8 through 11
"For us, Honolulu was la-la land, it was so far away that it was an imaginary place," said Leoni, who played for the University of Hawaii from 1995 to 1998. "It wasn't real. But then we made it real."
That's Leoni's goal as head coach for Lanikai Athletic Club's junior volleyball program. He wants his players to be ambitious and dream big, much like the second-year club itself.
LAC has grown from 30 boys competing locally last year to looking at fielding both boys and girls teams in Under-12 through Under-18 divisions that will travel and compete nationally.
The Windward Oahu-based club also offers co-ed teams for ages 8 through 11 that will complete in local Saturday tournaments.There are also four-week clinics on Sundays geared for individual training by position for girls 12 through 15.
"It is ambitious, but I think it's possible because of the commitment we have," said first-year coach Brianna Amian, an all-state player at Moanalua who played four seasons at San Jose State. "The big plus is having it on the Windward side.
"I grew up in Kahaluu and I went over the hill (to Honolulu) for club and high school. We did the commute thing and it's hard. I still live in Kahaluu and it's nice to be on this side."
The convenience for Windward families showed up in person when the club began tryouts last month. More than 40 players came to the inaugural practice at Le Jardin Academy's gym, which serves at LAC's home.
"You can't beat the facilities, it's probably the best on this side of the island," club director Ed Chun said. "We'd like to match the quality of the club with the quality of the facilities. Our goal is to get our athletes to college-level quality.
"We're trying to offer something for all age groups. There's a lot of buzz in the community. People appreciate that there is something on this side."
Chun, also the boys varsity volleyball coach at Kalaheo, has been involved with LAC for decades as tournament organizer and trainer for the adult teams. The club began in 1965 and was strictly for men's teams run out of Lanikai Community Park.
"I grew up playing at the park (for LAC)," Chun said. " We did get the blessing from the older guys to add the boys last year and now it's our first year for the girls. Ideally, if we have the numbers, we would like two teams in each age group, one that is competitive and one that is developmental."
Leoni concedes the quick growth can be both crazy and good, just like the multi-colored headbands he wore at UH.
"We are a little afraid but we think we can give the kids not just the great experience of playing volleyball but give them experiences they can use in the future, whatever it is they want to do in life," said Leoni, who lives in Kailua with his wife and 12-year-old daughter. "Maybe they don't end up with a college scholarship but we want them to think about it, about playing at the highest level.
"The amount of interest on the Windward side is unbelievable and the toughest issue has been getting gym space. We've been able to secure gym time at Kalaheo (High) and Kokokahi (YMCA) in addition to Le Jardin. We are really blessed."
Tryouts for girls 15-18 are Tuesday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Le Jardin. Online registration is available at lanikaiathletics.com.
Kayak skills clinic Sunday
Kayakers of all skill levels are welcome at Sunday's American Canoe Association's clinic at the Hilton Lagoon.
The event, put on by Hui Wa‘a Kaukahi kayak club, will teach paddling techniques, capsize recovery and kayak survival skills. Participants need to be current ACA and Hui Wa‘a Kaukahi members and can join both organizations Sunday prior to the 8 a.m. start time.
Participants also need to bring their own kayak, paddle, life vest, shoes or tabis, chair and lunch.
For information, contact Kevin Ching at 947-4526.
Triple Crown of tennis concluding
The Triple Crown of Hawaii women's tennis concludes over the next three weeks with the USTA Hawaii Pacific Section Women's Night Doubles, which started Thursday at Ala Moana, and the 13th annual PMAG Women's Night Doubles at Kailua Racquet Club.
The KRC event will be Nov. 12-17, with matches at 6 each night. It offers a $2,500 purse and free admission, with food and drink available for purchase.
In its first 12 years, the tournament raised more than $70,000 for the treatment and prevention of breast cancer. This year, Aloha Medical Mission will be the designated charity.
Ashley Ishimura and Alyssa Tobita, who won the first leg of the Triple Crown last weekend, are seeded first at Ala Moana. They have a first-round bye and play today.
Doubles event honors Hudson
The Lana Soares Hudson Fun Doubles Tournament, honoring the late Kamehameha Schools graduate and avid tennis player, is scheduled for Nov. 24 at Central Oahu Regional Park.
The format has players swapping partners every 20 minutes. It runs from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.
The entry fee is $35 and includes lunch, drinks and raffle. The deadline is Nov. 9.
Proceeds benefit the Autism Society of Hawaii. For information, contact Christine Watanabe at 358-7061.
Run to benefit Kailua High
The Friends of Kailua High School annual 5K and 10K runs, the last major road races before next month's Honolulu Marathon, are scheduled for Nov. 11.
Both races begin at 7 a.m. in front of the school's gym. Trophies are awarded to the female and male winners of each race. Entry fees are $25, including a T-shirt, and $15 for no T-shirt.
Online registration is available at active.com. Entries will also be accepted at the packet pickup on Nov. 10 from noon to 3 p.m., and on race morning starting at 6 a.m.
For more information, contact Anne Higashi at 223-5720 or Ed Kemper at 225-2965.
Island BMX: Registration, 4 p.m.; racing, 5 p.m. Sandbox track, Sand Island. islandbmx.org.
Kailua-Kona Boxing Show: 6:30 p.m., Thelma Parker Gym, Waimea. amateurboxingofhawaii.com.
Hawaii Street Soccer: Pick-up games, 5 p.m., Ala Wai Park. hawaiistreetsoccer.com.
3D Barrel Race: 5:30 p.m., DK Ranch, Waimanalo. rodeooahu.com.
Wreck 'n' Roll Doubleheader: PRD Bizznass vs.Garden Island Renegade Rollerz, 6:30 p.m.; PRD Hulagans vs. Nor Cal Rollergirls, 8 p.m., Palama Settlement Gym. pacificrollerderby.com.
Hawaii Hall of Fame: Induction banquet, 5:30 p.m., Hale Koa Hotel. 487-1496.
TriLanai Off-Road Sprint: 9:30 a.m., Hulopoe Beach. trilanai.com.
Honolulu Cricket Club: 10:30 a.m., Kapiolani Park. honolulucricketclub.org.
Hawaii Street Soccer: Pick-up games, 5 p.m., Sunset Beach Elementary School. hawaiistreetsoccer.com.
ACA Skills Clinic: 8 a.m., Hilton Lagoon. huiwaa.org.
Honolulu Marathon Clinic: 7:30 a.m., Kapiolani Park. Free. honolulumarathonclinic.org.
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Aloha State Championships: 8 a.m. Nov. 24, McKinley High gym. hawaiitriplecrown.com.
Michael Doran Memorial Scholarship 5K Fun Run: 7 a.m. Nov. 17, Kalani High School. $25. Proceeds to the Doran Scholarship Foundation. Optional literary character costume contest. http://www.edline.net/pages/Kalani_High_School/News/MDFunRunWalkform
Kaikamahine Girls Fastpitch Softball Club: Seeking players for 12U travel team. Year-round practices and games, and 2013 summer play on mainland. Information: John S. Lee, 398-4109 or email@example.com.
St. Jude Give Thanks: 8 a.m. Nov. 17, Magic Island. Registration: 7 a.m. fundraising.stjude.org.