Q & A: Punahou setter DJ McInerny

Punahou setter D.J. McInerny is the latest in a long line of talented athletes from his family. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.
Punahou setter D.J. McInerny is the latest in a long line of talented athletes from his family. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

He’s as normal a student could be on the grounds of Punahou’s enormous campus. But once he puts on the Buffanblu jersey, setter D.J. McInerny is in the zone. The senior chatted with Hawaii Prep World for this Q&A and also a feature story that was published in the Star-Advertiser print edition this morning, which you can read here.

D.J. McInerny
Punahou volleyball
5-9, 150

5-9 150
Q&A • Favorites

Athlete: Conor McGregor.
> I love how mentally tough he is and how hard of a worker he is.
> The thing I most admire is not only is he physically strong, he’s mentally strong. He likes to take on all challengers, bigger and stronger opponents. Most people doubt him and that he can overcome things.
> All my life I’ve been an undersized setter, so I’ve blocked out all the negativity about my size.

Team: Denver Broncos.
> Peyton Manning has always been my favorite player in the NFL. My uncle Tony got married to one of the daughters of Pat Bowlen (team owner).
Which uniform do you like?
> I like the blue jersey. Their orange jerseys are unique, but I like the blue better. I like the old throwbacks too.

Food (at home): My mother’s Brussel Sprouts.
> One day I came home and I was hesitant to eat them. I tried them and now I eat them three or four times a week. She boils them and puts olive oil, bacon, feta cheese and pine nuts on them. Me and my mom are the only ones. Everyone else is hesitant. 

Food (eating out): Coconut Lemon Herb Chicken from Da Spot.
> “It’s on university and king. Next to Down to Earth. I’m relatively new to it. My girlfriend took me there for the first time and it’s so, so good.” 

Hobby outside of sports: Playing Pokemon GO.
> “Everyone wants to play, all my friends. Some people think it’s childish, but you meet new people and go to new places like, I would drive by, but now I walk by there and see the cool things at night like the sideshow (in Waikiki).

Movie: The Wolf of Wall Street, A Knight’s Tale.
> My favorite is A Knight’s Tale. Heath Ledger. That was my favorite movie. It’s a pretty old one, but it’s pretty good. Overall it has comedy, romance, action, drama. 
> Wolf is super exciting. A true story and it’s crazy that someone could live like this. 

TV show: Vampire Diaries, Game of Thrones, Entourage.
> Vampire is more of a chick-flick kind of TV show. My sister came home for the summer (from college) when I was in seventh grade and told me about it. We bond over a lot of TV shows.
> Game of Thrones, I started watching it two years ago. All my teammates told me I should watch it. Over spring break, I watched four seasons worth. 
> Entourage, I guess it’s more the top. They’re just messing around. It would be fun to have one. 

Music artist: Khalid.
> He’s new. I don’t know how to describe his music. It’s a new kind of sound. That’s what I like to listen to in the car.
> Pre-game I like trap music and rap. Taiga. Kendrick Lamar

Teacher (elementary through high school): Jonah Kaakua (Punahou psychology/sociology dept.)
> Anyone who’s seen this guy knows he’s one of the nicest people you could meet, and he’s fun to be around. 

GPA: 3.4
> It could definitely be better. I slacked off in my sophomore and junior years. I definitely regret it.
Did it make a difference in your college choices?
> Not really. I’m going a school in Iowa called Grand View University.

Class: Pre-calculus.
> I’m not necessarily that good at it but the teacher (Scott Leitner) makes it fun and exciting.

Place to relax: At my friend’s house on the special red couch while watching a movie.
A special red couch?
> It’s a nice L-shaped couch and really comfy.

Motto/scripture: “Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn”
> Sometimes that’s me, I guess.

What your mom (Liana) says that you can’t forget: “Close the fridge!”

What your dad (Danny) says that you can’t forget: “I love you my man.”
How often does he tell you?
> After every game. And at home. No matter if I played well or not. I love my family.

How many siblings do you have?
> One sister, Kysa, and three younger brothers: Connor, Patrick, Brady

What your coaches say that you can’t forget: “2 + 2 = 10″points 
> Rick (Tune) really likes to highlight the word synergy. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole. That’s what we are as a team.

How does your volleyball affect your daily life during the season and offseason?
> Playing Volleyball for as long as I have I learned the saying “next play”. Meaning that when a play doesn’t go our way or a call doesn’t go our way we got to shake it off and get ready for the next play. I applied that to my life so when something happens not as I planned in my life I have to shake it off, not let it bother me and getting ready for what is about to come.

What middle and elementary schools did you attend?
> I have attended Punahou since Kindergarten.
You’re a Punahou lifer, but did you ever wonder about other schools?
> I used to wonder what it would be like to go somewhere but now I’m happy with what Punahou has shaped me into today. We’re just great at different things.

What youth teams did you play for? What club do you play for and what are the daily commitments like year-round?
> From the age of 12 to 15 I played volleyball for the Outrigger Canoe Club. Then from 16 to the present day I am playing ball at A`o Ā Koa (run by Charlie Wade, currently men’s coach at Hawaii).
Coach Wade’s club practices more?
> The year that he opened this club I joined right away. They practice more and it’s more collegiate. The drills are run by the assistant coaches, and all of Coach Wade’s drills are what he runs at UH. 

Where have you travelled for volleyball? Minneapolis, Reno, Dallas, Houston, Columbus, Hermosa, Long Beach, Hermosa, Anaheim, and San Mateo.
Where would you like to travel outside of the country?
> Brazil would be pretty fun. A lot of good players come from Brazil and id like to meet people there. 

What do you like to do, or what’s something else you’re good at — that would surprise most people?
> I have an obsession for this clothing line called “Chubbies”. They make these unique short shorts and other articles of clothing. 
> It’s a volleyball thing. I have eight pairs of Chubbies shorts and four shirts.

What is your ultimate dream/bucket list?
> Go to Africa and Jeep around seeing all different kinds of animals. I’d go with my friends and family. 

What is the history and background of your name?
> My last name is Irish. My ancestors immigrated from Ireland and opened up a clothing store. The “McInerny” store. 
They had a store at Ala Moana for years. Do you know about it?
> I don’t know. I never came around to asking. 

What is your family’s history in sports?
> I come from a pretty athletic family. My uncle, Harvey McInerny, was the former head coach for the Kamehameha Warriors track and field team. My aunty, Diana McKibbin, played on the national championship team, UH Wahine. My uncle, Tony McInerny, played at San Diego State, then later played professionally in Belgium, Germany. My father, Danny McInerny, played volleyball at LMU (Loyola Marymount).

My first name is actually Daniel. When I was born, my uncle Tony was so excited so he started calling all of his friends saying that “Danny just had a son born and his name is Daniel.” So Tony named me before my parents got the chance too. But my sister didn’t like the sound of having two Daniels in the family so she named me DJ. She took the “D” from Daniel and the “J” from my middle name (Joseph) and named me that and I guess it stuck.

That’s a huge legacy of family success in volleyball.
> It’s a big title to hold up. I’m just trying my hardest. I think would be happy and supportive no matter what.

Any shout-outs or additional thoughts are welcome. Mahalo!
> I would like to shout out to my family, friends, coaches, teachers, and anyone that I have met along the path of my life that has supported me and believed in me.

There’s nothing quite like the Punahou volleyball legacy.
> For us upperclassmen we understand the history. One of our jobs is to share that knowledge with the newer guys. The teams and people that built this dynasty. Before the season we watch this video about the history of Punahou volleyball.

Not only is your team jelling so well, you guys are dominating. How do you keep improving when the matches have been so one-sided? How do you avoid complacency?
> I guess keep practice super intense. We have super competitive guys at practice. It will get us ready for the day we have a long match. 


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