Tita Ahuna Digs Teaching Keiki

Tita Ahuna practices passing with her daughter Waialoha Lawrence Tabudlo photo

Through TAVA Hawaii and its new program called TAVA Tots, Tita Ahuna is developing a new generation of volleyball players who might one day experience the same kind of success she has.

The former UH Rainbow Wahine star, who served as captain of the 1987 team that defeated Stanford for the NCAA Division I National Championship, Ahuna initially started TAVA Hawaii (Tita Ahuna Volleyball Academy) in 2007 as a club team for players age 10 and up. When she became a parent to daughter Waialoha, many of her relatives and friends with kids the same age joked they should get their kids together on a volleyball team.

“I said OK, when Waialoha turns 4, I’ll start a volleyball program,” she recalls. “When she turned 4, they all held me to it.”

That was in September 2011, and TAVA Tots was born a few months later. Located at 429 Waiakamilo Road, the program is for 4-to 9-year-olds, and is divided into three categories by age and experience: Diggers, Slammers and Acers.

“I think coaching that 4-to 5-year-old age is such a blessing, because they’re just sponges,” says Ahuna. “They just want to learn, they follow directions and they listen. In TAVA Tots, we teach skill and movement patterns that can be transferred to any sport, but the emphasis is on volleyball.”

A talented athlete overall, Ahuna also played basketball and softball at Kamehameha.

She also was head coach and senior women’s administrator at Hawaii Pacific University, where she led the women’s volleyball team to two national championship titles, one NCAA Pacific Region Championship and four Pacific West Conference championships.

In addition to running TAVA Hawaii, she also is a special education teacher at Kapalama Elementary, working with medically fragile children.

“I’ve always loved working with young kids,” says Ahuna, who also has a 2-year-old son, Kilohana. “Education and athletics have always been a passion of mine, and I’ve never strayed off of those two.”

In the TAVA Tots, keiki use special volleyballs that are softer and lighter.

“With Waialoha, her confidence just soared,” explains Ahuna. “She was very shy. She played soccer before and wasn’t very aggressive or very coordinated, and she didn’t feel confident about herself. But as she did the Diggers session, and she just recently moved up to Slammers, it gave her a lot of self-confidence, and I’ve noticed not only in volleyball, but when she has to speak in class or in a social setting. So, she’s been able to transfer that kind of learning to everyday life.”

Just in time for summer, TAVA Tots has an eight-week summer program beginning June 3.

For more information, visit tavahawaii.org or call 366-3132.