Q&A: HBA’s 5-time ILH, 2-time state champ Ally Wada

Hawaii Baptist's Ally Wada is a standout in both volleyball and basketball. Photo by Dennis Oda/Star-Advertiser.

Somehow, between club volleyball and basketball training, trips all over the mainland, high school success — five ILH titles and two state championships — Ally Wada finds time to perfect the most important art in her life.

She’s really, really good at baking brownies. Wada, a 5-foot-9 senior at Hawaii Baptist, is also really, really good at school. Right now, Hawaii Baptist is ranked No. 9 in the Star-Advertiser Girls Basketball Top 10, one of only two Division II programs in the poll. The Eagles are 8-1 in ILH D-II (18-5 overall) and aiming for the success they’ve enjoyed over the last several years. That includes the 2015 state title.

There are two Ally Wadas on the basketball hardwood. There’s happy teammate Ally, the one who blends in, runs the offense with her teammates, crashes the boards and fills in as needed. That’s the Ally who likes to set, pun intended, for her teammates’ success. Then there’s the other Ally, the killer Ally who steps up her game at states — 59 points, 37 rebounds, 11 steals in three tournament games last year — and against powerhouses. She scored 18 against No. 2 Kamehameha in a near-upset. She pumped in 25 in an overtime loss to No. 6 St. Francis, HBA’s rival in ILH D-II. And she scored 28 and 24 points in two preseason games against No. 9 Sacred Hearts.

The first Ally is more than happy to defer to teammates and help them get shots — and get confidence. The second Ally hates to lose, and no opponent can really stop her single-handedly.

For all her basketball talent, Wada has already earned a full scholarship to play volleyball next season at the University of San Francisco. The three-time Star-Advertiser All-State Fab 15 volleyball selection chatted with Hawaii Prep World on Sunday.

She was featured in Tuesday’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser, which you can read here.

Ally Wada
Hawaii Baptist Academy
Basketball, Volleyball

Q&A / Favorites

Athlete: None
> There’s too many good ones.

Team: Los Angeles Lakers 
> When I was younger, me and my dad and my sister (Rylie) used to watch them because they’re his favorite team. We always had Laker jerseys.

Food (at home): Pesto because it’s the only food my mom can cook 
> We eat out a lot because we’re really busy. Pesto is really easy to make.

Food (eating out): Boba (Tea Time) and sushi (Sushi Bay in Kapolei)
> I usually get strawberry iced tea. It has fresh strawberries in it. I like the spicy ahi bomb at Sushi Bay. It’s spicy ahi on top of inari (cone sushi). But it’s always busy at lunchtime. You have to wait a long time, but the portions are big and it’s a pretty good price.

Hobby outside of sports: Baking, sleeping 
> I make brownies and cupcakes. You just follow directions on the box. My mom is a good baker.

Is this with or without walnuts?
> Both because my dad likes nuts.

How hard is baking brownies on a scale from 0 to 10?
> It’s a 2. You just follow the instructions on the box.

Movie: High School Musical 
> I think the music in it is really good. Me and my sisters used to watch it because we’d sing along with it.

What’s your favorite song from it?
> “Can I have this dance?”

TV show: One Tree Hill and Gossip Girl
> They cancelled One Tree Hill. They took it off Netflix last summer. I didn’t get to finish it. It was nine seasons and I was on season seven.

What is Gossip Girl?
> These two girls are super rich and this online site is Gossip Girl and there’s a bunch of drama. It’s dumb, but entertaining.

Video game
> When I was little I used to love playing all the Mario (Mario Kart, Mario Party and Mario Hoops) games on my DS. I loved to compete against my sisters and my friends. 

Were you the best at Mario?
> I’d like to think so, but a lot of people who would disagree.

Do you play on your phone?
> They have it for smart phones but it’s not the same.

Music artist: Don’t have one 
> I have regular ear buds, the free ones.

Teacher (elementary through high school)
> Mr. (Greg) Hayashi, because he was such a great athlete himself and so he’s very knowledgeable and wise when it comes to sports. In the classroom, he’s always joking around with us, which makes class really fun. I also had him as a track coach so it was fun learning from him in a sport I knew nothing about. 

GPA: 4.1
If you hated sports, would you be a better student?
> No. If I didn’t have sports I feel like I’d have a lot more free time on my hands and I wouldn’t be as efficient.

So you’re serious about personal time management?
> Whenever I have free time, I study. It depends on when assignments are due.

You’re not one of those students who waits until the last minute to get projects done and cram.
> I can’t. It stresses me out.

> AP Calculus because it’s the most challenging/rewarding class. It’s the hardest for me. I have to try really hard in that class. It’s rewarding when you do well.

Place to relax
> My bed or the beach 

> “To whom much has been given, much will be expected.” —Luke 12:48

What your mom (Candace) says that you can’t forget.
> “Wanna get boba?”

So she’s addicted to boba?
> Yeah, me and her?

Who started this?
> Me. I took her to to Shaka Shaka. And then she liked it a lot. We went there every day for one week to try something different each time.

What your dad (Darren) says that you can’t forget.
> “Stop giving me excuses.”

What your coaches say that you can’t forget.
> “Trust the process.”

“Don’t eat until your full, eat until you hate yourself.”
—HBA basketball coach Keith Sugiura
> Every time we win ILH, he takes us to eat at a buffet. So before we go he gives us the menu. He says make sure you plan what what you because you don’t want to get full.

How does your sport affect your daily life during the season and offseason?
> Being involved in multiple club and school sports, practices/games/tournaments take up most of my free time. The busy schedule forces me to use my time to study efficiently in order to maintain my grades. 

What middle and elementary schools did you attend?
> Hawaii Baptist Academy (entered in fourth grade). I was at Waolani Judd before that.

What youth teams did you play for? What club do you play for and what are the daily commitments like year-round?
> Volleyball: played for Ka Makani and OVC when I was younger, started playing for Kuikahi in eighth grade.

> Basketball: played for Hoops for Christ. 

> Being involved in multiple club and school sports is definitely exhausting, physically and mentally, at times because it takes lots up a lot of my free time. Though my schedule is often filled with numerous practices, I like to think of it as an opportunity for me to compete and be better in whatever sport it is. My busy schedule also teaches me how to manage my time so that I do well in school and on the court. 

Where have you travelled for sports and school activities?
> Orlando, Indianapolis, San Diego, Anaheim, Spokane, Arizona, Salt Lake.

What do you like to do — or what’s something else you’re good at — that would surprise most people?
> I enjoy traveling and trying different foods around the world. I also enjoy going on spontaneous boba runs with my mom, who loves boba just like me. Our similar passions for boba is actually something that we’ve used to bond with each other. 

So what are you top three food memories of sports travel?
> In San Diego, this past summer for basketball, there’s a place super close to the border. The fish burrito was super good. Me and my mom like to go this place called Class 302. It’s all over California. You make your own boba like Menchies.

What is your ultimate dream/bucket list? Where would you like to travel, what life would you like to have as an athlete? And away from sports? 
> My dream would be to use sports to travel the world, playing overseas would be cool because I would get to explore the world, while playing sports and competing in different environments. It would be cool to travel to different countries (like Japan, Australia) just to learn about their culture and their lifestyle compared to mine. I would also want to try the different foods from around the country. 

> Away from sports, I’ve always wanted to be a physical therapist (particularly in sports medicine). I think this would be a good job for me because I would still be around sports and all the competition involved, but at the same time be able to help others overcome adversity and hopefully succeed. 

What is the history and background of your name?
> I am named after my great-grandfather, Albert, who passed away around the same time as I was born. Though I never met him, I’ve learned through my grandparents how hardworking he was, and how he never failed to provide for all five of his children. 

Was he an athlete?
> He worked a bunch of different jobs. My grandparents used to always work on a property and they sold it last year and shared it with us.

Which sport do you like the best?
> Between basketball and volleyball, I think I would say I like them equally. I think they complement each other nicely and they are both very different sports. Basketball is a lot more physical while volleyball is more mental, but both are fun. I also participated in track seasonally, which was always fun.

It’s a must-score situation, a high-scoring game and your team needs you to score 35 or 40 points to have a chance. Is that normal to you or would it be way out of your comfort zone. (Note: Someone asked Kevin Durant if he could score 70 points in a game like Phoenix’s Devin Booker did. KD said his brain just isn’t wired that way.)
> Scoring that many points wouldn’t be something that is normal or in my comfort zone because I do like to try and pass and involve my teammates, but if scoring 35 or 40 is what it takes to win the game, I would definitely try my best to score as much as I can. I don’t think it’s so much how many points I score, but more if we win, whether it be me scoring or facilitating to our shooters. I think that’s the most important.

The next game with St. Francis could be epic again. Does the ILH D-II season feel similar to last year, or what feels different?
> I think it feels the same in that we are always so close to winning, but we struggle finishing the game and so a lot of times we fall short. But we are definitely working and learning from these tougher games, so hopefully we can learn how to finish out games strong. And I think a lot of that falls on me as a senior. I need to work on being more vocal during the intense, stressed moments in the game.

Any shout-outs?
> I would like to thanks all my past coaches in volleyball and basketball that have helped me to get to this point. Specifically, thank you to my H4C family: (Coach) Jimmy Mageo, Coach Rey “Smurf” Antonio, Coach Isaac Hayashi, the Dang ohana, and Nakagawa ohana for all the all the love and guidance throughout the many years.

> I would also like to thank all my friends, especially Katie Nakagawa, for always being my number one fans and for always cheering me on in whatever I’m doing.

> I would lastly like to thank my family. Thank you grandparents for always supporting me in all of my extra-curricular activities. Thank you mom and dad for everything you have sacrificed for me throughout the years. and for always pushing me to be my best (even if it was irritating and made me cry). Thank you Rylie for being a great role model for Emi and I to look up to. Your work ethic continues to inspire me to be better in whatever I do. Thank you Emi for being my best friend and for never failing to make me laugh. 


  1. Coach Lee January 10, 2018 9:34 pm

    Congrats to Ally! Wishing her all the best with the remainder of her time at high school and beyond. Loved playing against her. She forces her opponents to bring their very best game to beat her. Humble and respectful. Great role model for all that follow.

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