Lady Sil­ver­swords Hot On Re­cruit­ing Lo­cal Soc­cer Prospects

MidWeek Islander (East Oahu) - - EAST OAHU SPORTS EAST OAHU HIGHLIGHTS - By JACK DANILEWICZ

Be­fore Cham­i­nade built a rep­u­ta­tion for com­pet­ing with the na­tion’s best men in basket­ball, it filled its ros­ter with lo­cal play­ers.

Women’s soc­cer head coach Michelle Richard­son is of that same mind­set as she hits the re­cruit­ing trail this month. Just days from fin­ish­ing her first sea­son, she’s putting out the word: Lo­cals look­ing to play be­yond high school could be the right fit at CUH.

“Our mis­sion at Cham­i­nade is to cre­ate a team of mostly l ocal ath­letes,” Richard­son said. “There are a lot of kids here who don’t want to go away for school and may want to keep play­ing soc­cer.”

The soc­cer pro­gram is still rel­a­tively new af­ter its sixth sea­son, but while there’s only a limited amount of ath­letic schol­ar­ship money, it of­fers other op­tions for a stu­dent-ath­lete to cover costs, no­tably, “aca­demic schol­ar­ship money, Hawaii State stu­dent-ath­lete (funds) and Na­tive Hawai­ian grants.”

Richard­son was tapped to lead the pro­gram fol- low­ing a highly suc­cess­ful run at Kalani High, where she guided the Fal­cons to back-to-back OIA East ti­tles in 2009 and 2010. The team also was the OIA Red run­ner-up in 2010 and went on to fin­ish third at that year’s state DI tour­na­ment.

Richard­son has nearly 20 years of coach­ing at var­i­ous lev­els, in­clud­ing 14 as a head coach in Hawaii and North­ern Cal­i­for­nia. As a player at Saint Mary’s Col­lege in Mor­aga, she was a four-year let­ter-win­ner and the Gaels’ team cap­tain as a se­nior. Her coach­ing staff here also has as­sis­tants Conor Whit­taker, Am­bree Ako and Kanani Taaca.

“We’re look­ing for play­ers at all po­si­tions on the field. We’re look­ing for good stu­dent-ath­letes, first. They’re go­ing to col­lege to re­ceive an ed­u­ca­tion, first. We want kids who are strong aca­dem­i­cally and who have strong goals, aca­dem­i­cally. We also re­ally like kids who want to work hard be­cause soc­cer is a chal­leng­ing sport. We look for play­ers with good ba­sic skills who want to make them­selves bet­ter play­ers. They also have an op­por­tu­nity to make a huge dif­fer­ence here.”

The pro­gram has in­deed strug­gled in the win-loss col­umn while find­ing its way. On Hal­loween, for ex­am­ple, the Sil­ver­swords ended a 43-match win­less streak with a 1-0 win over Holy Names Univer­sity on Saint Louis Field.

“It was pretty amaz­ing,” she said. “It was also a re­lief for our play­ers that their hard work had paid off and that they were able to ap­ply ev­ery­thing we’d in­stilled in them. We’d been so close in so many games, that fi­nally get­ting past that was cathar­tic. It was also a great gift for our seniors.”

Tran­si­tion is­sues usu­ally come up in a coach’s first year, but Richard­son found a close-knit soc­cer com­mu­nity among the other Hawaii schools as well as within the PacWest.

“Ev­ery­one was very en­cour­ag­ing, and I’m sure that’s not nor­mal in in­ter­col­le­giate ath­let­ics, but the soc­cer com­mu­nity in Hawaii is dif­fer­ent. That made the tran­si­tion eas­ier.”

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