Class of 2009's impact just the beginning
By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer
This 28th annual University of Hawai'i Sports Circle of Honor is a testament to our remarkable diversity.
Its new members are:
• The late Jyun "Curly" Hirota, who went from the 'Ewa plantation to world series champion in Japan;
• The late Terry Albritton, who shattered the world shot put record at Cooke Field, then helped introduce "fast-twitch" muscle training techniques to the West, and future Philadelphia Phillie all-star Shane Victorino;
• Jim Schwitters, fulltime teacher and part-time coach who retired with a record number of NCAA tennis wins and is now being inducted into Halls of Fame at a frantic pace, and;
• Vince Goo, a special education teacher who put Rainbow Wahine basketball on the national map and pictures of his graduates — his graduation rate was .978 — on his wall.
Hirota, a two-sport star who graduated from UH in 1949 with a business degree in economics, was inducted into the Legends category at yesterday's media luncheon at Bank of Hawai'i, the Circle's sponsor since 1982.
The Class of 2009 will be honored at halftime of tonight's UH men's game at Stan Sheriff Center. The Circle of Honor, now with 10 teams and 90 members, is located on the inner concourse of the arena, a place Hirota and Albritton could only imagine when they were in Mānoa.
Yesterday Albritton's sons, Shane and Thomas, represented their father, who died while traveling in Cambodia. The boys grew up on Maui, where Shane was Victorino's classmate at St. Anthony. The small private school had a tiny weight room that was remarkably sophisticated, with three Olympic lifting platforms. So was their strength training, thanks to Terry Albritton.
A film major at Stanford, Albritton was fascinated by the training techniques in his trips to communist countries with the national team. He asked endless questions so he could understand the theories. He suffered a career-ending injury a year out of "his" Olympics and went on to become an American pioneer in plyometrics, or "explosive-reactive" power training involving the central nervous system.
"I saw him (Victorino) after my dad passed away and he really thanked me," Shane Albritton said. "He said, 'I owe a lot of my success to your dad.' He was really thankful. My dad played a big part in the success of a lot of people."
Schwitters had an impact on more than 700 varsity tennis players at UH over his long career. He was offered a minor league baseball contract while growing up on the Mainland, but tennis was his passion. He dominated the game here in the 1970s, after making his way to Hawai'i with stops and layovers in Illinois, Iowa, Arizona, California and Tahiti. While coaching UH he never stopped teaching an assortment of classes — at Maryknoll, 'Iolani, Mānoa and even on the Mainland.
"When I retired in 2004 I went out with my seniors (on the team) and I was OK with that," Schwitters said. "But I really miss teaching."
Goo shared that same passion for basketball. He never had the biggest or best athletes, but he took the Rainbow Wahine to their first NCAA Tournament in his second season. They would go to four more in the next decade.
They have not been back since 1998, but that was his focus every season — "just for the experience and knowing they accomplished a goal," he said.
"If you go to the NCAA tournament, you have to have done something good during the season," Goo said. "You measure it at the end and if you made the NCAAs, you know you did some pretty good stuff along the way."
Current coach Dana Takahara-Dias played for Goo and is also a former special education teacher. She introduced him and thanked him for "making us be better women in all facets of our lives." Goo thanked Takahara-Dias, for bringing interest to a program starved for attention.
"I think women's' basketball has come a long, long way," Goo said. "When Dana was introduced as coach there were four or five cameras and all the print media. Twenty years ago, when I was hired, we met on the third floor and there was one camera there, and it was my wife's Polaroid."
UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI'I CIRCLE OF HONOR CLASS OF 2009
• Coached Rainbow Wahine basketball 17 seasons, retiring in 2004 as winningest basketball coach in school history (334-166)
• Teams qualified for postseason 10 times (five each NCAA and WNIT)
• Earned program's only NCAA Tournament victory in 1990, reached 1992 NWIT championship and 2001 WNIT semifinals
• Coached three honorable mention All-Americans, three conference Players of the Year and 21 all-conference players
• Won program's only conference championship in 1996
• Four-time conference Coach of the Year
• Son of former UH men's basketball coach Ah Chew Goo
• Coached UH men's and women's tennis 38 years
• Retired in 2003 as winningest coach in NCAA tennis history with combined record of 1,327-610-15
• Coached 26 all-conference players and nine national scholar-athletes
• 2000 Region VII Coach of Year
• Guided UH men to eighth at 1968 NCAA College Division Championship and qualified for 1975 NCAA Division I Championship
• Named one of Top 10 Players of the Century in Hawai'i and Player of the Decade (1970s) by Hawai'i Tennis News
• Inducted into USTA-Hawai'i Hall of Fame as both player and coach, along with USTA, Hawai'i Sports and St. Ambrose Halls of Fame
• Broke world shot put record with throw of 71 feet, 8› inches at 1976 Cooke Field all-comers meet as a UH junior
• 1976 and '77 NCAA shot put champion
• Enrolled at Stanford in 1973 on football scholarship and also competed in track
• Transferred to Hawai'i in 1975 and was second in NCAA shot put
• Transferred back to Stanford for 1976-77 academic year after UH dropped mens track and field
• UH strength coach 1979-85
• Died in Cambodia in 2004 at age 50
JYUN "CURLY" HIROTA
• All-star catcher for Tokyo/Yomiuri Giants in Japan Baseball League, won four Japanese World Series titles from 1952-55, 1952 Rookie of the Year, named catcher on Japan's All-Time Nine team
• UH baseball coach 1963-65
• Co-captain 1948 UH football team
• All-league UH baseball player
• Manager for Kintetsu Buffaloes JBL farm club
• Aloha Stadium events manager
• Died in 2003