Kalaheo Girls Basketball Standout Now Team’s Head Coach

The game of basketball always has been a lifestyle for Shaina Ava, so going into coaching was a natural progression for the former Kalaheo and Citrus College standout.

“I just wanted to be a part of basketball forever, and I knew coaching would be the only way for me to stay in it forever,” she said.

Ava’s next challenge will be leading the girls basketball program at Kalaheo, the school announced late last week. Ava was girls junior varsity head coach last season for the Mustangs under Neil Bowers. Bowers resigned to relocate to Germany to pursue a new career opportunity.

For Ava’s part, the head varsity position is akin to a dream job. She played under Chico Furtado from 2002 to 2005 during a highly successful run for the program. “I honestly didn’t know Kalaheo would be a possibility,” she said. “I had contacted Neil hoping to be a varsity assistant, but he was actually looking for a head JV coach last year and asked me to take the job, and I jumped at the chance. I didn’t realize he would be leaving in a year. I’m excited to be part of a program that has been a part of me for so long.”

The Kalaheo varsity team had a solid season under Bowers in 2012-13, winning the OIA White post-season tournament. The Mustangs went 8-8 overall, also earning a berth in the Division II state tournament.

It was while redshirting for BYU-Hawaii a few years back that Awa’s interest in coaching multiplied, she said. “I had just transferred from Citrus because BYUH had added basketball, and I was all ready to jump right in and play there. But I had one credit that didn’t transfer, so I had to redshirt. It forced me to see the game from a different perspective, and we did a lot of clinics for youths in the community with (former BYUH) Coach Wendy (Anae). It was exciting to see the passion those kids had for the game at that age like I had.”

Ava’s mentors include “all of my (former) coaches.” “As a young kid, I always wanted to play for Tennessee and Pat Summitt,” she added. “I also was impressed by the fact that she was a woman.”

Having been the JV coach last year, Ava is counting on a smooth transition to taking over the varsity since she’s already familiar with prospective returnees.

“We’re used to each other at this point,” she said. “We have five (varsity) players graduating from that team, so we will be looking for them (players on JV this year) to help us, and they’re already used to the system we have in place.”

Ava also has set about finalizing her assistant coaching staff. Former Kalaheo teammate Candace Kinney and Ava’s father, Sipi Siliga, both will be in the fold. Sipi Siliga is well-known in the Kalaheo community, having been the defensive coordinator for the football program.

“Candace was with me last year,” Ava said. “She has a great feel for the kids here; she’s really good. It will be nice to have my dad with me since he’s the one who taught me how to play. He’s real good at motivating kids.”

Ava coached the Kalaheo JV team last year while expecting her first child. She and husband Jeremy welcomed their daughter, Sariah, into the world four months ago.