Further Review | Sports Stanley gives Hawaii fans something to cheer about By Dave Reardon July 30, 2012 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. The early summer of our discontent extended beyond University of Hawaii football players allegedly driving drunk and $200,000 of missing state funds. The Penn State scandal and its fallout are even more depressing, especially for what it says about our priorities as a society. The public discussion over the harsh NCAA sanctions is tiresome, but necessary. Maybe the conversation will result in reassessment of the importance of entertainment versus that of public safety, especially for children. And locally, the whole thing takes our minds off the Stevie Wonder concert at UH that never was, or at least puts it in some kind of perspective. Lucky we live Hawaii. Or at least more lucky than Not-So-Happy Valley. Before they even started, the Olympics added to the downbeat vibe. The games are missing two of the athletes Hawaii was most interested in. I’m among those very disappointed that decathlete Bryan Clay (Castle) and wrestler Stephany Lee (Moanalua) are out. Thankfully, we’ve still got wrestler Clarissa Chun (Roosevelt) and volleyball player Clay Stanley (Kaiser). Wrestling doesn’t start until next week, so Chun had time to share some light moments with Michelle Obama as the Games got into gear. The second-time Olympian took a picture of teammate Elena Pirozhkova hoisting the First Lady, and the 4-foot-11, 106-pound Chun playfully challenged Obama to a push-up contest. Despite her world-famous arms, she wisely declined. It was all business for Stanley and the defending men’s volleyball gold medalists on Sunday, though. They quickly dismantled Serbia in their first preliminary-round match. And perhaps a corner was turned for Hawaii sports fans. For what seems like the first time in months, we got something to really feel good about. We got it from Stanley, the only competitor in this Olympiad who attended both a Hawaii high school and UH. He’s no rookie. This is his third go-round on the men’s volleyball team. No medal in 2004, gold in 2008. He’s no upstart. Stanley, whose father was an Olympian and mother played pro volleyball, was MVP of the U.S. team that won in Beijing four years ago. Now he’s the team captain. And at age 34, with 12 years of international pro and national team experience, Stanley fills the role perfectly for a squad in transition that needs his leadership. On Sunday he served a 6-0 run that turned around the second set and allowed the U.S. to sweep Serbia. He’s always been a powerful server and big hitter. But even at this late stage of his career, Stanley continues to fill the holes in his game. He’s improved his blocking and defense over the years, significantly. That’s leadership by example. And Stanley gets even more credibility with young teammates when they see what great shape he’s in, especially considering he’s coming off knee surgery last year. When he was at UH, Stanley’s world-class talent was evident, but raw. He was an exciting if not always winning performer. True greatness could be his only if he worked at it. It was evident in 2008 that he did exactly that, and Sunday’s performance shows he’s continued on that path. This team may be too erratic to successfully defend the gold. But in its first match it was steady and calm, with just enough emotion when needed. And a destructive block. Stanley was in on four of the 16, and his ninth kill completed the sweep. Coach Alan Knipe credited "discipline and attention to detail." You get that from a young team and it means you’re getting strong leadership from somewhere. All indicators point to Clay Stanley as the source. Reach Dave Reardon at email@example.com or 529-4783. Previous Story Olympics: U.S. water polo results Next Story Olympics: Loaded field to swim 'Race of Century'