When Ka‘u senior Kamalani Fujikawa played volleyball or any other sport for the Trojans, she could hear the enthusiasm from her own cheering section — her parents and two sets of grandparents, the positive push that motivates her.
She recently signed a national letter of intent with Shoreline Community College, in Shoreline, Wash., becoming the first in her family from the small town of Pahala to play collegiate ball, and providing the Fujikawa and Davis sides another reason to cheer.
Her first cousin is Hilo senior Jalen Carvalho, who signed on April 22 to play basketball and baseball at Oregon Institute Tech. She was at the signing, along with her cousin’s parents, Dave and Sandy Carvalho, who’s her auntie and from Pahala.
Fujikawa is part of the historic Trojan Trio that not only carried Ka‘u to its first Big Island Interscholastic Federation volleyball title in 2012, but also to continue her career on the next level.
Marley Strand-Nicolaisen finished a fabulous first season at UH-Hilo, where the 2013 Ka‘u graduate was named the Pacific West Conference Freshman of the Year. She took swings at outside hitter for the Vulcans and led the team with 341 kills and averaged 3.67 kills per set.
Ka‘u senior Toni Beck signed with Briar Cliff, an NAIA school in Sioux, City, Iowa.
In 2012, Strand-Nicolaisen, a 5-foot-11 middle blocker, was named the BIIF Division II Player of the Year.
The 6-foot Beck and 5-7 Fujikawa made the All-BIIF second team as outside hitters.
In their senior year, Beck landed on the first team while Fujikawa repeated at second team.
“I think it’s super awesome,” said Fujikawa about three Trojans signing scholarships. “Marley was the trend-setter and I looked up to her, thinking maybe I can do that one day. I was so happy for Toni, too.
“I’m so excited. There are not a lot of people from Ka‘u who have the opportunity to go somewhere after graduation, and I’m grateful that I’m one of them.”
She’s the daughter of Riley Fujikawa, who works at Pacific Quest, and Shaunda, a health nurse at Naalehu Elementary. She has a 3.4 grade-point average and plans to major in psychology with an eye toward a career as an addiction counselor.
“I’ve always wanted to help those with addiction problems,” Fujikawa said. “That’s something that I’ve always wanted to do.”
Being big-hearted is one of her roles as the school’s vice president. She’s also a National Honors Society member, and part of the Interact Club, a community service that cleans up areas.
“Vice president is a really hard job. You’re in charge of the whole school,” Fujikawa said. “You have to plan activities and when a new student comes in you eat lunch with them and give them a tour of the campus. Our school is not that big, so it’s pretty fast.”
Fujikawa, who credited Pilapaa club coach Chris Leonard for sharpening her skills, sent out video and Shoreline quickly responded. She’s getting a pair of gems with her Dolphin co-coaches. Mark West and his wife Raquel Chumpitaz-West started in 1997.
He played Division I college volleyball at George William’s. His wife played for the Peru national team in the Olympics, World Games, European Games, and Pan-American Games. In 1995, Chumpitaz-West was recognized by the Peruvian Sports foundation as one of the best sports women in Peru.
Last season, the Dolphins finished 21-15 and fell to Clackamas in four sets in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges championships.
Fujikawa will be more than 2,400 miles away from home. Shoreline is something of a small college with an enrollment of just over 6,000 students.
If she misses home, she can always think about her grandparents.
Her parental grandparents are Raymond Fujikawa, who was a cowboy, and her grandmother Betty passed away. Her maternal grandparents are McKinley Davis, who works at Royal Hawaiian services, and Wendy Davis.
“My motivation is my family. My grandpa Ray had an opportunity to play college baseball in Washington, but his parents couldn’t afford it,” Fujikawa said. “I’m so happy I have the opportunity to make my family proud, and being from Ka‘u.”