Price's value to Punahou worth more than goal
By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer
Paradoxically, Punahou senior Shayna Price was called the team's "unsung hero" by her water polo coach in the midst of earning her second straight state tournament Most Outstanding Player honor.
Price scored 13 goals in three games for the Buffanblu, leading or tying for the team lead in each of the games as Punahou won its third straight state championship last week.
"If a game is on the line (and) it is the final minute of play ... there is no one I would rather have the ball to take the game-winning shot than her," Punahou coach Ken Smith said.
But according to Smith, it is all the things Price does that don't show up in the statistics that make her valuable to the team.
"The people don't realize how good she is in this sport," Smith said. "Everyone thinks of her as a prolific scorer, which she is. That was her big claim to fame when she was younger, but she's developed into a complete player now."
He points to her as the team leader in assists and steals as well in her development as an all-around player.
While Price may not have as strong a swimming background as other players, "she developed her ability to read the game and see what is going on," Smith said. "She more than makes up for the swimming that other people have."
The Buffanlu dominated in their 11-0 season, outscoring opponents 157-18.
"We've never beaten anyone by that much before, and I think it comes from our hard practices," said Price, who credits her teammates for the improvements in her game.
Smith said Price's prolific scoring overshadows another part of her game.
"She's one of our top defenders, but people don't see that, they just see the scoresheet," Smith said.
Price, who is Harvard-bound, will join sister Aisha on the Crimson water polo team in the fall.
"A lot of what I've done I've learned through Aisha, she's a great defender," Price said. "She stole a lot of balls last year and that really helped me. I really wanted to pick it up this year."
Smith, who has seen his fair share of talented players, said Price "ranks with any of the girls that I've had" in her shooting ability.
"She's a natural shooter, which comes from her confidence in who she is as a person," Smith said. "If she misses a couple of shots, it doesn't faze her at all. I've had really good shooters, but if they miss two or three, they aren't taking the next shot. She's always exhibited such a self-confidence."
Price said her father, Charlie, "always used to say, 'Don't play like a freshman,' so even if I missed a shot, I would just keep shooting ... you're never going to score any goals unless you keep shooting."
Smith points to that confidence as another aspect to Price that makes her stand out, calling her poise "really rare."
She offers another reason: "Any success I've had in water polo I owe to Ken. He's helped me in and out of the pool."