• 32°

Lei-ing it on the line

WILLOW WOOD - When Paul Arrington was in high school, Hawaii sounded like a great vacation spot.

After attending the University of Indiana where he became a doctor and struck up a love for playing volleyball, Arrington went on permanent vacation.

So to speak.

A 1963 graduate of Symmes Valley High School, Arrington attended IU and eventually ended up in Hawaii. He continued to play volleyball and eventually began coaching the sport, something he has done for the past 20 years.

After 10 years of coaching at the club level, Arrington added coaching high school volleyball. He annually brings members of his Waimea High School girls volleyball team to the mainland where the team puts on clinics and plays exhibitions.

Arrington returned to his alma mater this week to conduct a volleyball camp for Symmes Valley and four other area schools: Coal Grove, Rock Hill, Chesapeake and South Point.

"It's a chance for me to give back to my community. If you look in the stands, most of those people are my extended family," Arrington said.

Waimea is traditionally one of the strongest teams in Hawaii and either win or contend for the league and

state championships.

Symmes Valley volleyball coach Becky Bowling understands why the Menehunes have had such great success.

"Their style of play is how to depend on your teammates and to keep a positive attitude," Bowling said. "Their volleyball is very disciplined and high energy.

There's no sitting at their camp.

"The respect for coaching is a big thing. And you never give up and say 'I can't.' It motivates our girls just watching them and makes you want to coach better."

Arrington said the discipline is a result of the traditional values in Hawaii. He said the extended family is very important, much like he remembers his own family while growing up.

"Hawaii is still a lot of extended family. You work together. We stress team concept. We continually work on it," said Arrington who is known to his family as Paul Joe.

"I ask the girls before the season, 'What are your goals, no mine.' I'm demanding, but not demeaning. You want to give them something that's meaningful and useful for the rest of their lives."

Arrington was a standout football, basketball and track athlete at Symmes Valley, then began playing amateur league volleyball in college. When his wife's team needed a coach, he stepped in and "really enjoyed it." It was an easy transition to coach girls high school including his daughter, Robyn.

He said that the transition from the mainland to the islands was almost as easy.

"There was a cultural difference, but I understand the system," Arrington said. "As for food, I've been a risk taker. Raw fish? I love it."

Coming back home is no problem for Arrington, but his team sometimes has to wrestle with the different lifestyle. The six girls making the trip this year had never eaten at a Wendy's restaurant or seen snakes and farm animals.

"The food is hard for our kids on the mainland. We need rice. We buy 25 or 50 pound bags. At home, most of them eat rice three times a day," Arrington said.

On the plus side, Arrington said one of the biggest things the girls noticed was how quiet the area is compared to home.

"One girl grew up on an island of 300 people. This has been different," Arrington said.

Britnee Boeder, 17, has been playing volleyball for the past seven years. She was making her fourth trip to the mainland on a volleyball trip.

"It's very different. It's nice to see hay stacks, hills and farm animals. It's a different way of life," she said.

Boeder, who is from the northern most island of Kauai (Ka-wah-ee) admitted that the girls weren't fond of the mainland food, though.

"We don't like the things they bring us, but we brought them food that they didn't like," Boeder said.

There is also a big difference when it comes to playing volleyball. Boeder said in Hawaii large crowds attend matches, cheering and waving signs.

She said California most resembles the Hawaiian interest in the sport.

"On the west coast they practice all year. They're really good," Boeder said.

The traveling team was comprised of Ashley Vea, Ui Kanahele, Fa'a Taala, Pua'ala Aipolani, Boeder and Robyn Arrington. Walter Souza, a 30-year coaching veteran, is the team's assistant coach.