To many, Wahine athletics is synonymous with Rainbow Volleyball. To be sure, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s oldest continuously running women’s program—and its most successful—consistently earns attention for the level of play and size of the audience.
Still, it is only one of a dozen intercollegiate athletic programs available to women at UH Mānoa.
Mālamalama looks at historic highlights of the Rainbow Wahine program.
1961 Donnis Thompson, UH’s first women’s athletic director, is hired to start a women’s track and field program.
1974 UH Mānoa is officially recognized as an intercollegiate competitor; tennis starts; volleyball places 2nd in the first Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) championship tournament.
1975 Dave Shoji is named the head volleyball coach; the team finishes 2nd in the AIAW tournament.
1977 UH hosts its first national championship, the 1977 AIAW golf championships.
1979 Volleyball wins the Western Collegiate Volleyball Conference and captures UH Mānoa’s first national championship, the AIAW title.
1982 Volleyball wins the NCAA title.
1983–84 Volleyball wins its second straight NCAA championship; All-American Gwen Loud captures the NCAA title in the long jump; 100- and 200-yard national NCAA breaststroke champion Jeanne Childs sets new national records.
1984–85 Softball is added, but track is dropped from the program.
1986–87 Volleyball All-American Beth McLachlin is inducted into the UH Circle of Honor; 13 other women additional share the school honor.
1987 Dave Shoji is named the Southwest Region Coach of the Year and volleyball wins the NCAA championship, its fourth national title.
1988–89 Donnis Thompson, is inducted into the UH Hall of Honor; Wahine basketball reaches its first NCAA tournament.
1990 All American Judy Mosley completes her fourth consecutive year as basketball team leader in scoring and rebounding and goes on to become one of 32 players selected in the nation’s first-ever WNBA draft.
1993–94 Volleyball makes the NCAA regional finals; basketball ties for the Big West title and reaches the NCAA tournament; softball ties for the Big West championship and reaches the NCAA regionals.
1994–95 Soccer is added.
1995 Volleyball sets NCAA attendance records.
1996–97 Rainbow Wahine athletics joins the Western Athletic Conference; Angelica Ljungquist is the national Player of the Year and first four-time All-American in school history.
2000–01 Track and field is reinstated; basketball reaches the semifinals of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament; Cheryl Smith sets new school cross-country records and is named the WAC Athlete of the Year.
2001 Sailing wins its first national championship; Mānoa harriers host the Western Athletic Conference championship for the first time, with Wahine Cheryl Smith and Casey McGuire-Turcotte finishing one-two.
2005 QiongJie Huang becomes the school’s first NCAA diving champion, winning the 1-meter springboard event; water polo reaches its first NCAA championship round, finishing fourth place overall.
2006 Swimming and diving wins its first Western Athletic Conference championship.
2008 Emma Friesen wins the NCAA 1-meter springboard championship; at the Olympic Games in Beijing, alumnae Natasha Kai wins a gold medal in soccer and Robyn Ah-Mow Santos wins a silver medal in volleyball.
2009 Dave Shoji becomes just the second head coach to win 1,000 matches in NCAA Division I history; his team makes its ninth appearance in the NCAA final four.
2010 Softball reaches the Women’s College World Series for the first time, shattering the NCAA record for home runs in a season (158); Amber Kaufman wins the national championship in high jump; Dave Shoji is inducted into the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame.
2011 UH inducts its first all-female class in the UH athletics Sports Circle of Honor class—Title IX author Patsy Takemoto Mink, soccer standout and Olympic athlete Natasha Kai and record busting softball pitcher and three-time Olympian Brooke Wilkins.
2012 The Rainbow Wahine will add sand volleyball to the women’s lineup.