Four Hawaii athletes contributed heavily to their team’s ascent to the NCAA Championships.
The four are:
• Maryknoll’s Jhenna Gabriel, who was the starting setter for a Texas team that advance to the NCAA women’s volleyball final;
• King Kekaulike’s Colton Cowell, who helped Hawaii volleyball beat BYU and make school history by becoming the first UH men’s team to win an undisputed NCAA title.
• Kaiser’s Kaile Halvorsen, who played big minutes in helping Santa Clara beat Florida State to capture the College Cup in women’s soccer.
• Jocelyn Alo, whose home-run power propelled Oklahoma past Florida State for the NCAA softball crown.
Here is the interview with Alo:
Oklahoma designated player and school-record holder for home runs.
Alo hit a game-saving go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth to help Oklahoma survive an elimination game against Florida State. The next day in the winner-take-all game, Alo homered in the first inning, providing the impetus for Oklahoma’s NCAA title-clinching win over Florida State on June 10.
(She was in Miami at the time of the interview in mid-June, just “celebrating” she said.)
Q. How proud does it make you feel to be one of few from Hawaii to win a national championship?
A. “Honestly, it feels really good. Every time I go on the field, I remember where I’m from and the things I represent, so I always carry a piece of Hawaii with me whenever I am playing.”
Q. Do you feel you can inspire others despite coming from a small state?
A. “Oh yeah, for sure. I think that my story is pretty unique one. So people to know my story and to know how dedicated I was to this and how much I got of it now that I look back is crazy. Just to be an inspiration to little kids and everyone to be like, work hard and continue to have a positive attitude with whatever you’re doing.”
Explain your unique journey
“All started when I was too young to play on a t-ball team, so my dad (Levi) would take me to the park every night and we would just hit a whole bunch of balls, pick ‘em up, hit some more. And from there, my dad started noticing the potential that I had.
So played travel ball in Hawaii, played travel ball in Hawaii, played baseball, played softball, just wanted to seek out better competition so we flew out to California and played travel ball there for Batbusters and So Cal Pumas. I was with Pumas for one summer and Batbusters for rest of My summers.
He would save out $10,000 and we would rent out an apartment and just work out play softball and drive all over the country and it was fun.
Q. What age was this?
A. “With Pumas I was probably 13. Batbusters I was 14.”
Q. You would play with guys?
A. “No (not with those teams). When I played baseball I did in Hawaii. I played with Markus Ramos, I played with Jordan Macias, Keolu Ramos, Kaimana Bartolome, Joey Cantillo. I played with a lot of big names.”
Q. What was the experience, winning and playing in the WCWS?
A. “It was fun. It was just a really good experience, like obviously I played in the World Series before. I played in the national championship before, but I hadn’t won it yet, so it was definitely I can’t explain it. I’m on Cloud 9 just thinking about it.”
Q. If you had a message to kids in Hawaii?
A. “Just with hard work and dedication that things like this can happen.
And to just remember to keep God and your family and the values that you have always with you. And just continue to represent your home state. Because I feel like Hawaii kids get overlooked, so whenever one gets to shine the way that they deserve to, just take it and run with it.”
Q. What’s your future?
A. “I’ll probably be playing pro here soon. Then, maybe I’ll be a teacher. But I do want to get my master’s.”
Q. Are going back to Oklahoma for your senior year?