Leeward Beach Volleyball Grows

(from left) ABV coaches Keoki Shupe, Bert Hayashi, Shea Suzumoto, Chase Suzumoto and Diana McKibbin | Kelli Yoshimura photo

Many of us have inner visions, but few have the desire or the courage to take action on them. Those who dare to follow their visions often realize their biggest dreams.

Rod Suzumoto is grateful he listened to his heart. It was just over a year ago when Suzumoto had a revelation that he needed to do something in the fight against childhood obesity and other health-related concerns. He also knew it had to be fun.

Suzumoto shared his vision with son Chase and former Rainbow Wahine volleyball player Diana McKibbin. Together, the trio formed Aloha Beach Volleyball (ABV).

“Our mission was to provide Hawaii’s youths with a sustainable physical fitness program on the Leeward coast using beach volleyball as the primary sport,” says Suzumoto. “We’re trying to bring back the ‘old school’ ways by providing a quality program that is free.”

Suzumoto gives praise to McKibbin, whose sons Riley and Maddison played collegiate volleyball at USC.

“Diana has great ideas and is always looking for ways to improve the program,” says Suzumoto. “She knows how to get the kids involved and get good exercise, instead of staying at home and playing games on the computer.”

ABV has partnered with the city to offer the free program at Maili Beach Park. Several sponsors donate lunches and sunscreen products for the participants, while coaches from all across Oahu volunteer their time and knowledge to the cause.

“Our goal is bring this community together,” says Suzumoto. “We have anywhere from 30 to 50 kids on Saturdays, and there’s great talent on the Leeward coast! We believe, with the quality coaches we have out here, some of these kids can take what they learn and earn college scholarships.”

ABV recently launched its second year of activities in January. From now until November, ABV is providing free volleyball clinics on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. And this year, the nonprofit organization has partnered with i9 Sports Honolulu to provide free flag football, soccer and T-ball on the fourth Saturday of each month.

“We wanted to give the children the opportunity to learn the basics of multiple sports while getting much-needed exercise,” Suzumoto says.

Another of this year’s goals is to give junior volleyball players the chance to coach ABV participants the basic skills of outdoor volleyball. Suzumoto says his 12-year-old son Shea is making the most of the opportunity. Shea willingly wakes up at 4:30 on clinic mornings and joins his dad for the long drive from Kaimuki to Maili. The clinics run from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

“Shea just loves to coach,” says an excited and proud Suzumoto. “This experience not only develops him into a better player, but more importantly, a better person. He’s learning the importance of community service while improving our communities!”

Suzumoto’s vision has turned into a mission: “We’re making a difference in the lives of people on the Leeward coast.”

For more information, call Rod Suzumoto at 294-9091. You also can check out its Facebook page or email the organization at alohabeachvolleyball@gmail.com.