Early in the 2000s, Lily Olteanu was known as Lily Kahumoku, a star volleyball player for the University of Hawaii women’s volleyball team.
At UH, Lily Kahumoku was a four time All-WAC first-team selection and four-time AVCA All-American, including two first-team selections. Her college career ended in the 2003 Final Four, her third such appearance over her years in a Wahine uniform.
“It was probably one of the greatest periods of my life,” Olteanu told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “As we grow and we get older, we look back to the past and when I think about my time as a Rainbow Wahine, I can’t help but smile because I really realize how special is was to be part of that program and just to be part of that community and playing the sport that I lived with an amazing group of people. It was epic.”
She and her husband, Bogdan, have lived in over a dozen countries over their pro careers, including Italy, Spain, Argentina and Brazil. They currently live in Alabama, where together they run FOCUS Volleyball consulting, which is aimed at helping future generations develop volleyball skills and fundamentals.
Lily Olteanu posts online training sessions three times a week that can be done even while in quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I work with them at my home, I work with them in the gym in small, individual and larger groups,” she said. “Right now, what I’ve done is I’ve created a small social network for them to join.
“I really think that going back to the root and the core, basic skill of ball control is so, so important because that’s what makes the difference at the professional level. When you wanted to go to the next level, a lot of people struggle because they don’t have the ball control. You might be able to hit and bounce the ball inside the 10-foot line to the ceiling but if you can’t move it around in the match then it’s hard to score points.”
Just as volleyball is an integral part of Lily life, so are concepts from home that have followed her everywhere she’s been.
“The Aloha spirit is something that is so unique to Hawaii and when you’re in a community where that’s so important, that goes with you wherever you go,” she said. “That’s something that I used to a tremendous advantage, it helped me in so many different situations, living abroad for so long and I’m just so fortunate to have had those opportunities.”