By Berkeley Neuman
Across the vast Pacific Ocean more than 2,500 miles away from the cold and wet forests of Oregon lies Hawaii. The Hawaiian islands are a warm and lush tropical paradise, which begs the question, why would anyone want to leave that to come to the rainy climate of the Pacific Northwest? Despite the weather, many student-athletes from Hawaii have traveled to Lewis & Clark and have stood out from the rest.
On many of LC’s sports teams, athletes from Hawaii have had tremendous success. On the football team, athletes like Cameron Chang ’21, Maka Ah Loo ’19, and Makana LaBoy ’21 received all-conference awards this year. Heisman Hosoda ’19 broke the LC completions record catching 17 passes in a single game and was given the Northwest Conference Offensive Player of the Week award. Other athletes on the team like Melvin Ho’omanawanui ’20, Kaimana Kahale ‘20 and Robert Nakihei IV ’20 all contributed with many tackles this season.
Chang had a total of 28 tackles and approximately seven sacks and was also the Male Rookie Athlete of the Year his freshman year. He reflected on why he decided to study and play football at LC.
“I chose to come to LC because I knew I could get the best of both worlds,” Chang said via email. “I would get a top of the line education while also being able to play the sport I love. It was also in an environment that I wasn’t used to and that was something I was looking for. I wanted a place away from home that would push me to experience new things and take me out of my comfort zone so I could grow both as a student and a person.”
Ho’omanawanui has a career total of 39 tackles and three sacks. He is a veteran linebacker and a major component in the football team’s defense. He described why he thinks LC is a good place for people from Hawaii to go to school.
“I think that many people from Hawaii come to Lewis & Clark because it’s somewhere new but not too far from home,” Ho’omanawanui said. “Personally, I didn’t want to go to college in Hawaii because I wanted to go to new places and learn new things. I know others who had the same mentality. Being in Portland was something new for me, and it isn’t too far from home either. It’s easy to find Hawaiian food around Portland, but it’s easier to find people from Hawaii. On the football team alone, we had 13 students from Hawaii. So even though we are physically away from home, we never feel too far.”
On the women’s volleyball team, first years Michelle McGinn ’22 and Ka’anelaokapu’uwai Pakaki-Pias ’22 significantly contributed to the team. Other athletes like Kayla Valdez ’21 and Annika San Nicolas ’19 were also major contributors. These athletes from Hawaii have shown tremendous skill and ability in their sports, playing in a place much different from their home.
McGinn played in 23 games this season and had a total of 231 digs and 390 assists. She started in multiple games and overall had a strong start to her LC volleyball career. She reflected on her decision to attend LC.
“I decided to attend Lewis and Clark because of the beautiful campus, and the potential I saw within the volleyball program,” McGinn said.
McGinn believes LC is a good fit for her because it allows her to continue what doing what she loves.
“Lewis & Clark was a good fit for me because it allowed me to mainly focus on my education while playing the sport that I love, which is volleyball,” McGinn said.
Pakaki-Pias had a great start to her LC career by totaling with 147 kills and 264 digs. She played in 23 games and had her first start this year. She informed us which qualities of LC attracted her.
“LC was a good fit for me because having small class sizes force me to stay engaged in class and gives me a chance to get to know my classmates,” Pakaki-Pias said via email. “I feel that being on a campus so small also prevents you from feeling so alone and like you have no one to go to. Also, I wanted to go to school with other people from Hawai‘i because I felt like they would be able to relate to how I’m feeling if I get homesick and I feel like we all have a similar mindset. Knowing other people from home also gives you a good base.”