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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, August 13, 2001

Hirata siblings get opportunity to be like Mike

By Casey McGuire-Turcotte
Special to The Advertiser

It began with a little luck and culminated with a trip to Michael Jordan's basketball camp, a meeting with his Airness himself, six trophies and memories of a lifetime for 11-year-old Chanel Hirata and her family.

Ryan Hirata, 14, and sister Chanel brought home a lifetime of memories and a handful of trophies from the Michael Jordan camp in Chicago last month.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

"If Chanel hadn't won this trip, I don't think any of us would've ever imagined going to Chicago," said mother Sandra Hirata. "The farthest east we'd ever been was Vegas."

The Hiratas' trail to Chicago began March 21 when Chanel and her older brother, Ryan, entered a drawing at the IMAX Theater in Waikiki. Chanel was one of 30 boys and girls randomly selected to compete for the grand prize — a trip for two to the Jordan camp. After winning a preliminary shootout, Chanel advanced to the final stage — held during halftime at the state high school girls tournament. There, she sank 10 free throws in 30 seconds to win the trip.

"I was surprised I won," said the incoming sixth-grader at Maryknoll School. "I guess I was lucky."

Ryan, who will be a sophomore at Maryknoll, wasn't selected but plans were quickly made for him to go, too.

"We decided that since half the family was already going, we'd all go and make a vacation of it," said Sandra, who, along with husband Clyde, also made the trip.

The camp was held July 14-17, and more than 400 individuals ages 8-18 from across the nation converged on Elmhurst College in Chicago for four days of Jordan-style basketball.

Jordan made several appearances — giving lectures, signing autographs and answering questions (except those regarding his playing status for the upcoming season, for which his only reply was a "no comment" and a grin.)

"When Jordan first came on the second day, I was amazed that he was actually there," Chanel recalled. "I couldn't believe it at first. ... But once he came the second, third and fourth times, he was just a regular person."

The camp was grueling. The day began at 8:30 a.m. — and except for 45-minute lunch and dinner breaks — practices, drills and games continued until 10:15 each night.

"It was a really hard-working camp," Ryan, 14, said. "Everyday I'd leave sore from all the running."

The campers were placed in age groups, and then into teams of 8 or 9 that would play together for the entire camp, allowing the participants to improve their team play as well.

"The people on your team became your friends," Chanel said.

Chanel and Ryan were selected by their camp coaches for several honors. Chanel earned the superstar award for her play during the all-star game, the playmaker award for her all-around fundamental skills, and also was the spot-shooting champion for the 12-and-under age group.

Ryan, who played on the Maryknoll varsity as a freshman last season, also won the superstar and spot-shooting awards, and was named the most outstanding player in the 14-and-older division

The camp was memorable for both.

"You meet a lot of people from all around the country and just play," Ryan said. "I realized that even though you might be from a different place, you can get along with people through basketball."

As for returning someday, once may have been enough.

"I'd like to go again," Chanel said, "but it was kind of far."

• • •

Slam Dunks: During the autograph session on the last day, Chanel gave Jordan a kukui nut lei. "He said, 'Oh, so sweet. Thank you.' " Chanel said. "But I don't really think he knew what it was." ... Matthew Glickstein, who will be a senior at University High, was the male IMAX shootout champion and also won a trip to the camp. ... The contest was sponsored by IMAX Hawai'i, Niketown and KCCN.