Football player, volleyball player and soccer player are gathered around the TV. So what sport are they watching? Surfing, of course.
“If Zeke went to UH, he probably would have ended up playing football,” says the football player, pointing to the 25-year-old wave rider on the screen. “Zeke” is professional surfer Ezekiel Lau, the Vans World Cup of Surfing defending champion. As accomplished as he is, however, Zeke is just one member of a remarkable sports loving family that includes three former University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa student-athletes.
The family patriarch, Leonard Lau, was a Rainbow Warrior wide receiver in the late 1980s. Mom Daina was a member of one of Coach Dave Shoji’s most talented Rainbow Wahine volleyball teams. And daughter Sarah was a four-year standout for the UH Wahine soccer team. Each of them carries a special memory of their time in competitive college sports at UH Mānoa.
For Leonard, it was being a part of Hawaiʻi’s historic 56-14 win in 1989 over archrival, the BYU Cougars. “It was the first time [since 1973] that we beat them,” recalls Leonard, who graduated in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. “After the game, we ran around the stadium with the UH flag, celebrating with the fans. It was one of the best feelings I ever had as an athlete.”
For Daina, playing for coaching legend Shoji in 1989 was a reward in itself. “He was an amazing coach,” says Daina, a 1991 graduate with a degree in business administration. “His knowledge of volleyball was at such a high level, and so was his ability to recruit. We had so many talented players then: Teee Williams, Karrie Trieschman, Cheri Boyer, Jaime Paet…”
And then there’s Sarah, who graduated this past May with a degree in communications. For the budding model and aspiring sports broadcaster, the last five conference games of 2018, her senior year, hold a collective memory she will always cherish.
Together with fellow senior co-captain Raisa Strom-Okimoto, “We really got the whole team on the same page, and we felt unstoppable. We trusted each other and weren’t second-guessing ourselves. It was a great feeling.”
Read more about the Lau family and their ties to UH Mānoa in the new edition of the UH Foundation Magazine (PDF).