The boys of LVA earned the right to play at the club level in the first-ever USA Volleyball Boys National Championships. They traveled to San Mateo, Calif., over New Year’s weekend and placed second in the Silver Division and eighth in the Open Division. While that wasn’t quite good enough to qualify them for the open division, their record earned them a berth in the club division.
Lanakila, which means “victorious” in Hawaiian, will have the opportunity to compete with 120 teams—one from every state and around the world. (Puerto Rico won the championship last year.)
In addition to playing on a national stage, the team members will have an opportunity to experience a higher level of competition, and be seen by college recruiters and national team programs.
Alex Wright, Josh Chapple and Rocky DeLyon are members of Lanakila Volleyball Academy, which has earned a spot in a national competition.
The Lanakila Volleyball Academy, boys 18-and-under team, includes Nathan Brandes, Josh Chapple, Hinano Delima, Rocky DeLyon, John Eddins, Justyn Kuhaulua-Feiteira, Pono Frietas, C.J. Rilveria, Connor Snow, Alex Wright, Kuakea Yasak, Kapena Kaiwi, Kemamo Kaupe Hanchett, Mark R. Walker Jr., Dylan Hamilton and Kapena Kaiwi.
The tournament, formerly known as the USA Junior Olympic Boys’ Volleyball Championships, was changed to more accurately reflect the goal of the sanctioning body, USA Volleyball. The organization states: “The goal of USA Volleyball and the Junior Assembly of USA Volleyball (JA) is to determine, through competition, the strongest teams in the country while continuing to support the growth and development of the boys program as a whole.”
LVA has a strict disciplinary code that includes no substance abuse. If players violate this rule while they are at the tournament, they will be ejected from the team and their parents will have to retrieve them in Texas.
Bubba and Gimi Thibodeaux founded LVA last fall, and have been involved with interscholastic volleyball on Maui for more than 20 years. LVA Board President Gimi assembled a board that includes Vice President Mercer “Chubby” Vicens, Secretary Kauko Kane and Treasurer Donna DeCosta.
The organization supports six teams—three boys and girls 18-and-under teams, and three 14- and 15-and-under teams.
“Next year, we want eight teams,” said Gimi. “We want to add a boys and girls 12-and-under.”
Gimi is very proud of her coaching staff and supporters. She and her husband coach girls 15- and 14-and-under, and boys 18- and 15-and-under, respectively; Donald Kealoha coaches boys 14-and-under; and Lena Quilantang coaches girls 17-and-under. Quilantang is a former player (indoor and beach) and a respected coach on the Mainland and here in Hawai‘i.
Helpers on the staff include Hawai‘i professional volleyball player, Isaac Kneubuhl, who was described in an article in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 2008: “Cal State Northridge senior Isaac Kneubuhl had always stood out on the volleyball court for his superior talent. In high school, he was selected to the Star-Bulletin all-state team as a sophomore. By his senior season, he was named “Player of the Year” and had led Kamehameha to two state championships.”
Other assistants include Henry Davis, Kalani Thibodeaux and Harold Kaiwi.
Gimi is also grateful to Seabury Hall, which charges a nominal fee for use of the gymnasium during the school year and donates use of the facility in the summer. All they ask of LVA is that they assist with the school’s big annual fundraiser—the Seabury Craft Fair. She also wanted to express gratitude to the County of Maui for their support in allowing the program to operate at the Pā‘ia Gym.
“Without all these people, LVA would not be where it is today,” said Gimi. “Hard work, discipline, structure, humbleness and perseverance are what we believe and try to instill in the boys and girls in the program.”