pursuit

Dave Shoji

Cover story by Liberty Peralta, PBS Hawaiʻi

 

Hawaiʻi volleyball fans know him as one of the sport’s winningest coaches of all time. Dave Shoji, former University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Wahine Volleyball Coach, is featured this month on a new episode of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox.

 

After defeating Santa Clara University on September 6, 2013, Dave Shoji became the winningest coach in NCAA Division-I women’s volleyball at the time.

After defeating Santa Clara University on September 6, 2013, Dave Shoji became the winningest coach in NCAA Division-I women’s volleyball at the time.

 

During his 42-year career, Shoji’s teams won more than 1,200 matches, more than 85 percent – one of only a handful of coaches in the National Collegiate Athletic Association to have done so.

 

Despite his success as a volleyball coach, Shoji pursued other sports as a student athlete. Growing up in Southern California, Shoji played high school football, basketball and baseball. Of the three, he says baseball was his best sport; it led to an athletic scholarship to the University of California – Santa Barbara.

 

Left: Shoji (center) in 1969 in Knoxville, Tennessee with the UC Santa Barbara volleyball team after winning the national title against UCLA. Right: Shoji in 1994 coaching the UH Wahine volleyball team

Shoji (center) in 1969 in Knoxville, Tennessee with the UC Santa Barbara volleyball team after winning the national title against UCLA. Photo Courtesy of the Shoji FamilyShoji in 1994 coaching the UH Wahine volleyball team Courtesy of University of Hawaiʻi Media Relations

 

His college baseball career, however, didn’t last long. “I realized at that time that I wasn’t going to go anywhere in baseball,” Shoji says. “I was too small and my arm wasn’t good enough; I didn’t have any power. It’s just a different game in college.”

 

UC Santa Barbara ended up being the place where Shoji discovered volleyball, a relatively new collegiate sport at that time in the 1960s. With Shoji on the team, UCSB won a national championship in 1969, and he became an All-American player in the sport. He later took his volleyball chops with him to the Army, where he served on active duty for two years.

 

After completing college and his military service, Shoji moved to Hawai‘i in the early 1970s and helped set up UH’s new volleyball program – setting the stage for long-term success in the sport. Among his career highlights, he’s led the Rainbow Wahine team to four national championships and nine NCAA Final Four appearances.

 

Dave Shoji on Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox Tuesday, March 31, 7:30 pm

 

Now retired in Honolulu, Shoji is focused on his family, with three grandchildren in South Carolina and Poland. He is also focused on his health. Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016, Shoji says he’s grateful for the medical care and support he received during his treatment. “You never know,” he says. “You just pray and you try to live healthy. I’m pretty good right at this moment.”

 

 

 

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