Kaya Chong Is Back With The Chargers As Strong As Ever

For Pearl City’s Kaya Chong, the 2012 volleyball season will provide an opportunity to take care of some unfinished business.

As a sophomore two years ago, she had an imme- diate impact for the Chargers — only to see her junior season wiped out altogether by a torn ACL. That setback only strengthened her resolve, and she revived her already-noteworthy work ethic.

“She’s definitely one who pushes herself, and she’s a good leader by example,” said her coach, Kory Toyozaki.

“It was during the first nmatch of our (Oahu) Club season — in the first set and in the first three points — that I got hurt,” added Chong. “Now I’m just trying to get my spot back in the front row. I want to prove that you can come back from an ACL injury and play even better than before.”

Through her rehab, Chong found the ideal supporter in her mom, Terri (Bertulfo), who is one of the most decorated athletes to ever come out of Chaminade University, having had her number retired by the school while she was still a player there. “She always tells me that success isn’t about other people’s goals for you,” said Chong. “Success is self-satisfying and know- ing that you did your best.”

On the eve of Pearl City’s season, Chong took some time away from the practice court to visit with MidWeek:

Who’s had the biggest impact on you in your life? My mom. She knows the game. I pretty much have someone at home who knows what she’s talking about, and who’s experi- enced the same things as me.

What is your earliest sports-related memory? The first sport I learned was basketball. I never wanted to play volleyball then. I remember my dad taking me to Geiger Park in Ewa Beach to shoot (baskets).

What area of your game are you focusing on this pre-season? I’m trying to work on (playing) outside. I had a lot of experience in the back court last year (after returning from injury), and I have confidence there, so it’s my outside hitting I’m trying to work on.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned through athletics? You can’t do everything on your own. You have to remember there are other people who help get you to where you’re at. Life in general is (com- parative to) a team sport.

Who has been Pearl City’s best “practice player” this summer — the girl who gives 110 percent at all times? I think it would be Kacie Chinen. She always gives over 110 percent. Even when she’s frustrated, she keeps the team in high spirits. She’s always there to cheer us on and give us high fives.

What movie could you watch over and over? My favorite movie — and the one I can watch over again — would have to be Grease. What’s in your iPod? Mostly R and B and some songs to get me hyped up before a game.

Do you play video games? What are your favorites? I don’t play video games a lot, but my little sisters and I play Wii. Our favorites are tennis and bowling.

You’re stuck on the Island of Kahoolawe. You can have an endless supply of one food. What would it be? It would be squid luau and pizza. I love Pizza Hut’s stuffed bread.