HONOLULU (KHON2) - The University of Hawaii soccer team is describing themselves as an intimate group this year. They'll be playing with just six players on the bench at any given game.
They also are very young. Aiea High School graduate Raisa Strom-Okimoto is one of just two seniors on the team.
"I just want to leave this program on the best note possible," said Strom-Okimoto.
"I think Raisa has the opportunity to really bring her career full circle," said head coach Michele Nagamine. "As a freshman, she was coming off of a knee injury in high school and came in and I think we both regret not red-shirting her that season, because it did take a little while for her to get back in the groove because she had been out of the game for a bit."
The Rainbow Wahine were picked to finish at the bottom of the conference, but Strom-Okimoto was named to the preseason all-conference team.
"I don't know," reacted Strom-Okimoto. "It doesn't really mean much, because you know it's just people voting on you, but like we were voted last too as a team, and I don't think that's our outcome this year."
"She has a wonderful reputation with the other coaches," said Nagamine. "So I think this year is about, for Raisa, making the people around her look good and achieving her goal of getting to the Big West Tournament."
Coming off her freshman year, Strom-Okimoto put in extra work to improve her fitness, agility, and overall speed.
"As a coach, when you watch a player like that who is already at the top of the food chain, that is inspiring to me as well because if I can find players like that, we will definitely be in the upper echelon of the Big West," said Nagamine.
Strom-Okimoto is one of six UH players from the state of Hawaii.
"When I was a kid, I always used to go to UH games watching Natasha Kai, Ambree Ako, stuff like that, so it's always been a dream," said Strom-Okimoto. "Something that always gives me butterflies is standing at the national anthem, about to start a game. When I was a child I always used to see them on the field, seeing them all lined up, and that's exactly where I wanted to be, and I've been living my dream the past four years, and this last year I try not to think of it ending but just living in the moment and making the best of it."
The Wahine start the season one week from today against Texas A&M.