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.
Kaiser 2018, Santa Clara forward
Played every match this season, played big minutes against Florida State in NCAA College Cup, won by the Broncos on penalty kicks on May 17.
Q. What was your experience like this season and winning the Soccer Cup?
A. “This year obviously, there’s been so many challenges and difficulties with COVID and nobody, not even me, would have expected how it turned out. Especially Santa Clara, our county was probably one of the strictest counties in the nation. We were in isolation for both the fall when we were expecting to have the season and when it was canceled, then again in the spring we were in a bubble consisting only of our team. We weren’t allowed to see anybody else outside of our team so that was definitely hard, just traveling across the country, to North Carolina, to be in another bubble to compete in the NCAA tournament. It definitely was very really challenging and no one would have predicted how the outcome was, but I’m super proud and I’m still lost for words, it’s been almost two months.”
Q. What message do you have for the kids of Hawaii:
A. “So growing up. Hawaii soccer is very competitive, of course. When I was in the youth soccer program, there wasn’t really anyone in Hawaii you could look up to I guess. It seems like a big challenge to get to D-I soccer and not even just getting there, but competing at the level of the national championship. Never in a million years, would I have thought I would be there.
“Obviously, going into college, I knew Santa Clara had a super rigorous and competitive culture, so it was always our hopes and dreams to get there, but to actually get there is a completely different story.
“I would say to the kids here growing up that to just believe and that anything is possible and just because it’s seems so far out of reach, it’s really not.
I would just say that anything’s possible, just keep working, never give up and always believe in yourself.”
Q. What’s your goals, long-range and short?
A. “Thinking about starting my master’s (at Santa Clara), majoring in biology with a minor in public health.
“Long-range goal, I’m hoping to go to physicians’ assistance school.”
A. “It definitely scary. My mom is an ICU nurse at Queen’s so I’ve seen it first hand, especially with the pandemic and how it’s affected our medical professional. I think there will be a huge demand for incoming medical professionals, there’s going to be a big opening for people hoping to do what I do.”
Q. You’re now in position to inspire, how proud of you of that?
A. “It definitely makes me super proud. It’s a gift and great responsibility to be held in that regard. Honestly I never thought I would get to that position, but I couldn’t be more grateful that I am in that position. It just makes me so happy to know that kids in Hawaii playing sports can look up to me and use me as an example to strive to get to the places they want to be as well. It makes me super proud of where I’m from, and I can’t wait to continue putting Hawaii on the map and repping the 808.”