Three players with Hawaii ties made the USA men’s volleyball national team official roster for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
Kawika and Erik Shoji, as well as Kamehameha’s Micah Christenson, made the final cut for the United States roster. All three also competed in the 2016 Games, where the U.S. won bronze in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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“I think it’s so special,” Kawika Shoji told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “It’s a culmination of a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication, perseverance, and it’s just a special day because it brings back so many memories. It’s a time of reflection for us and a time of gratitude really and that really starts with our roots being back home.”
“It’s a special experience,” Erik Shoji added. “I think the three of us are a lot more experienced than last time around. It was a great announcement today to have. I think we’re all stoked. We’re all happy to represent USA but also Hawaii as well.”
Christenson and Kawika Shoji are the only setters on the 12-man roster, while Erik Shoji is the lone libero.
Kawika Shoji is an ‘Iolani alumnus, while Erik Shoji graduated from Punahou. Both were members of Stanford’s 2010 national title team. Their father, Dave, was the University of Hawaii women’s volleyball coach for 42 years and lifted the Rainbow Wahine to national prominence.
“It’s a huge honor. This is our second Olympics and to have three of the 12 guys on the Olympic roster, a quarter of the team being from Hawaii is such a cool thing to be able to represent to kind of carry on our backs and have a sense of pride,” Christenson said. “It’s definitely a sense of pride for us to be able to try to represent Hawaii in the best way we can but also inspire the next generation coming up because we had those examples growing up, watching a lot of other players from Hawaii succeed. So to be able to do that, to do our best to try to be those examples is a huge honor.”
Former University of Hawaii men’s standout Taylor Averill is a middle blocker on the eight-man alternate roster.
USA opens play at the 2020 Games in Tokyo against France in pool play on July 24. Despite a one-year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all competition will still be recognized as the 2020 Games.