Diverse group of five to be enshrined today
By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Ann Miller
It would be hard to find a more diverse group than the five people who will be inducted into the University of Hawai'i Sports Circle of Honor at halftime of tonight's basketball game against San Jose State.
The common thread for Robyn Ah Mow-Santos, Angelica Ljungquist, Larry Sherrer, Toku Tanaka and Dick Tomey has nothing to do with sports and everything to do with Hawai'i. All still fondly call it home, whether they live here or not.
Ljungquist came the farthest, following two other immensely talented Swedes into the Rainbow Wahine volleyball program. She was the most talented of all, helping Hawai'i to the 1996 national final and earning national player of the year honors. She is the only four-time UH All-American.
Ljungquist will miss tonight's induction because she is playing professionally in France. Ah Mow, Ljungquist's teammate from 1993 to '96, also will be absent. She is playing professionally in Switzerland but first made her volleyball mark as a fourth-grader in the late Longy Okamoto's Kamali'i Club.
Ah Mow caught UH coach Dave Shoji's eye at McKinley High School. He calls his decision to have her concentrate solely on setting one of the best of his career. She blossomed into a two-time All-American then took her game to the elite level. She has been the starting setter for the past two U.S. Olympic teams and hopes to play on a third in Beijing. In between, she and Ljungquist are trying to hook up on a professional team.
"Angelica misses playing with Robyn," said UH assistant Kari Ambrozich. "Robyn is so competitive and makes everybody around her play better."
Sherrer grew up in Oklahoma. He was the leading rusher as a freshman for the top-ranked Sooners, but had issues with the coaching. A teammate told him he could transfer to Hawai'i, then an independent, without Oklahoma's permission.
The Rainbows reaped huge benefits and Sherrer has considered Hawai'i home since 1969, still warmly recalling the 9-year-old boy — he never got his name — that walked him off the field after every home game.
The man described as "Marcus Allen with speed" was the first UH player to rush for 1,000 yards (in 1971) and set all the school rushing and scoring records. He went to the 1972 Hula Bowl, was drafted by the New York Giants and ultimately came back to graduate from UH's John Burns School of Medicine in 1984. He is now a respected ophthalmologist in Lihu'e.
Tanaka was in Waialua's first graduating class in 1939. A centerfielder, he played for UH and and the Rural Red Sox and turned down an offer to play professionally in Japan.
He worked in the College of Tropical Agriculture for 32 years and was asked to be the 'Bows' volunteer coach in 1950. He accepted, left to pursue his master's, and rejected an offer to return until he persuaded UH to offer its first tuition waivers.
Tomey, now the San Jose State football coach, established UH as a prominent program before leaving for Arizona. In the years he was here (1977 to '86), UH earned its first major ranking, got its first shot on national TV and saw attendance more than double to a peak of 46,000 in 1984.
"I love Arizona and San Jose State, but my heart is in Hawai'i," Tomey said. "I'll call it home until the day I die."
Reach Ann Miller at email@example.com.