Hawaii-Texas Volleyball Connection

Jacqueline and Fabio Ribeiro. Photo courtesy Ribeiro Ohana

When the 2012 Olympics open July 27, you couldn’t blame Fabio Ribeiro and his family for looking down the road to the Olympics in 2024 or beyond. The former Rainbow basketball star from the early 1990s has a 13-year-old daughter who is already getting notice for future Olympic development camps.

But before I update you on the Ribeiro wunderkind, let me update you on Fabio.

The 6-foot 9-inch Brazilian was a prolific scorer for Riley Wallace’s 1991-92 and 1992-93 UH basketball teams, and then played professionally for more than a decade overseas, including Portugal, Greece and Italy, and on five different continents.

“My favorite place was Portugal, but the best team I played for was in Greece,” Fabio says. “I made some all-star teams, won one championship and one Cup title. It was great, a very good experience.”

In between his Euro tours, Fabio was often back in the Islands. He played in the NCAA Summer League and ran a series of basketball camps. He and his wife Sarah (a former KGMB TV producer) moved to Austin, Texas, about five years ago with their daughters Julia and Jacqueline when Fabio got into the computer business with Dell. Julia is a 17-year-old swimmer at an Austin high school while Jacqueline is turning heads as a rising beach volleyball sensation.

“We’ve got an Austin Rainbow connection as (former Rainbow men’s volleyball all-American) Brian Poppinga was her first volleyball coach here,” Fabio says. Brian and his wife Karrie (former UH Wahine all-American Karrie TrischmanPoppinga) run the appropriately named Ali’i Volleyball Club in Austin, and Fabio sometimes helps out as an assistant. “They live about five minutes from us,” he says. “Jacqueline and (the Poppinga’s daughter) Avery are best friends and do everything together.”

One of those things is taking the Islands’ love of beach volleyball to Texas.

“Jacqueline is a good player indoors, but she’s very good in beach volleyball,” Fabio says. “She really developed her volleyball connection when we moved here to Austin. We started playing a lot of pick-up games in the sand because it was easier on the knees for all of us adults. Jacqueline started playing more and got good enough where she’s winning tournaments.”

Last year, Jacqueline qualified to play in the hotbed of beach volleyball tournaments in Hermosa Beach and placed second in her age group. Her efforts drew attention nationally and she was invited to the prestigious High Performance Camp later this month in California.

“The goal is to try and eventually make the junior national team (in her age group) and go on to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. She’s still young, and is playing with older girls, (but) we’re very proud of her.”

This summer, the Ribeiro family will spend a great deal of time at tournaments and camps on the West Coast, and should get back to Texas about the time the Olympic flame is glowing in London. As they sit and watch the games play out on their TV screen, they can dream that one day Jacqueline Ribeiro might get her own chance to see the world, much like her globetrotting father did.

It’s the Ribeiro Rainbow Connection.