Jan. 21, 2010
STANFORD, Calif. -
Kawika and Erik Shoji have been in the spotlight recently. Last year, they became the first set of brothers to earn All-America first-team recognition in the same season and, this year, are prime reasons for Stanford's high expectations in men's volleyball.
With the season barely begun, the Shojis already have been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, on Comcast Sports Net Bay Area and soon will be on the cover of Volleyball Magazine.
Of course, the back story to any Shoji profile is their father, Dave Shoji, who has earned legendary status on The Islands by coaching the University of Hawai'i women's volleyball team to four national championships over the past 35 years, and to a surprise final four appearance last fall.
Despite the distance from home, Mary and Dave Shoji attend perhaps 80 percent of Stanford's matches. Come first serve, however, and Mary is nowhere to be seen. And that's by design.
"He doesn't like to hear me," she said. "And I don't like to hear him."
However, Dave is easily visible at Stanford's matches, at the south end of the court. Typically, a match begins with Dave calmly sitting several rows back. With the passage of each set, each glimpse catches his progression ever closer to the court. By the final set, he's standing in the front row, eyes focused sharply on the play in front of him.
"It's hard for me to detach the coaching part," he said. "Watching my sons, I'm always coaching in my mind."
He almost did more than that. Stanford coach John Kosty attempted to hire Shoji as a volunteer assistant coach this year, and Shoji was interested. However, there was too much to overcome, both from a red-tape perspective - Shoji would need to take a leave of absence from Hawai'i - and because he felt he might shortchange both programs by not being able to devote full effort to either.
Last year, Stanford had essentially one assistant, Ken Shibuya
, because longtime assistant Al Roderigues
was stricken with stomach cancer.
"I think there was a need for the program to have another coach, especially with Al being ill," Dave said. "I would've loved to have helped John on a regular basis, but it just didn't work out on my end. I didn't want to be a part-time coach."
Mary, a Fargo, N.D., native who met Dave when she was playing basketball for Hawai'i, takes a different perspective when viewing her sons.
"I'm probably more analytical," she said. "I've been around volleyball a long time. But I can keep it in better perspective."
"I want them to win very badly," he said. "At times, it would get too emotional for me."
Dave said he doesn't always agree with Kosty's coaching decisions, but resists the urge to second guess.
"He has a plan, a very good plan," Shoji said. "There are times I might do things differently, but there are good reasons why he does what he does.
"And the last thing I want to do is be one of those fathers that voice their opinions. I don't allow that with the parents of my players. And I understand what it's like."
-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics