Hawaii is not home to any major league professional sports teams, so the University of Hawaii‘s sports program is the equivalent to our NFL and MLB. Of all the division I sports teams UH is known for, the Wahine (Women’s) Volleyball program is by far one of the most prestigious. Consistently in the NCAA top 10, home to the second most winningest women’s volleyball coach ever and one of the few women’s sports programs in the country generating positive revenue for a university, the Rainbow Wahine program is really something special.
In 2010, Anthology Marketing Group asked my company Berad Studio to pitch a concept for a segment on Hawaiian Airlines in-flight video magazine Hawaiian Skies. Coincidently, at the close of the Rainbow Wahine 2009 season, head coach Dave Shoji captured his 1000th win, making him only the second coach to reach this prestigious mark. Dave Shoji’s accomplishment along with the Wahine playing well going into their 2010 became the impetus for the documentary “Then & Now.” I pitched the concept to Anthology Marketing Group hoping the concept would resonate with Hawaiian Airlines as well and apparently it did, and thus I began my journey to make this short documentary happen. My intention was to gather players from past and present teams to help me answer the question: What does it mean to be a Rainbow Wahine.
Growing up in Hawaii, I had watched the Wahine play and was a big fan, but having not attended UH Manoa myself, or playing any collegate sports, I wasn’t sure how to begin contacting players, coaches, TV stations or other resources. I started by contacting the UH Wahine Assistant coach Scott Wong (who was my house mate when we lived in Los Angeles) who put me in touch with the UH Media Relations staff from whom I got media passes to games and eventually contacted K5 and Hawaii News Now for some historic game footage.
I also got in touch with another friend and former Olympian Kevin Wong who was excited to help out on the job. Being a professional volleyball player himself, he became the perfect person to interview the players, coaches and staff and since he could speak their language and was an authority on the game, he had more credibility than anyone else I could have chose. He became an associate producer and liaison between the Wahine staff and players and myself and honestly the success of this project was largely due to his participation.
Every year, the current Wahine team plays an alumnae game against former players which was the perfect opportunity to start meeting former players and capturing their stories. We were able to interview a large number of players and coaches but due to the fact that were were in a gym, noise and space became a big issue. We had to move our setup at least 5 times that night so as not to block any walk ways, incur too much audio interference or be in anybody’s space.
We thought it fitting to finish off our interviews with the current players in front of the Stan Sheriff Center arena where the Wahine currently play.
When the project was done, it was received extremely well by the Agency, the University and Hawaiian Airlines which I saw a a huge success.
Ironically, the night I delivered the final piece to the Agency, I got word that Coach Dave Shoji was inducted into the AVCA Hall of Fame. I quickly re-rendered the project with a new ending highlighting this huge accomplishment.
This project was an amazing challenge and equally amazing experience for Berad Studio which I am so proud to have had.