During a break in the second set of the Owls’ 3-0 win against Memphis Friday, first-year assistant coach Ren Cefra closed his eyes and sang along with “Somewhere over the Rainbow.”
Temple continued its annual tradition of Hawaiian night at McGonigle Hall—a practice coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam started a few years ago.
“We do it every year,” Ganesharatnam said. “It’s been a long tradition that started with [former player Gabriella Matautia] a couple years ago because she’s from Hawaii, so we started doing Hawaiian night because of her. … It’s a fun event to have every year.”
Seeing the fans with leis around their necks reminded freshman defensive specialist and Kailua, Hawaii native Mia Heirakuji of the beautiful weather she grew up with, as she adjusts to Philadelphia’s climate.
“It felt great to come in and have the aloha spirit,” Heirakuji said. “It was fun to get to see everyone in lei and enjoy a volleyball game. I do miss the weather though, and going to the beach whenever I can.”
Heirajuki said Friday was a memorable night, as it allowed her to feel like she was back in Hawaii.
“I feel really special,” Heirakuji said. “I feel kind of at home, and it’s cool that we’re celebrating this considering I’m from Hawaii.”
Cefra, who served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Minot State, is a Honolulu native and graduated from the University of Hawai’i-West Oahu.
“It feels good being from Hawaii and having Temple understand and have a Hawaii night,” Cefra said. “It’s awesome because, us Hawaiians, we want to bring something from home to wherever we are. So to have a night like Hawaiian night, it’s special.”
Cefra said his transition from to life in Philadelphia has been easier because of Heirakuji.
“It’s always more comfortable having someone from Hawaii,” Cefra said. “Because when you are talking about something they know what you are talking about and you don’t feel lost. And that’s great also being able to talk about stuff back at home.”
Transitioning from any place to a big city can be tough, but Heirakuji has had to adapt quickly.
“It’s a culture shock,” Heriakuji said. “Hawaii’s so small and you come to a big school like this that is very diverse. It’s been different for me but I’m adjusting and everyone is so nice here.”
Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.