The athletic apples don’t fall far from the tree for Alicia Owens, who played softball for UH-Hilo from 1992 to 1994 as a shortstop and starting pitcher.
Alicia Robles came to UHH from Fullerton junior college in Southern California. While at UHH, she met and later married Marcus Owens, who landed on the All-PacWest second team for basketball during the 1995-96 season.
The couple was married for a decade and had two children, Lily and Niccolo Owens, who inherited their parents’ athletic genes and have followed in the family’s sports in Chino Hills, Calif.
Lily is a 5-foot-9, 140-pound shortstop, blessed with more power than her mother. Niccolo is already 5 feet 11 as a freshman at Bishop Amat Memorial High, a private school in La Puente Calif., where his sister is in the class of 2022.
In the Curious case of where are they now?, Owens, 47, is a territory manager for a refrigeration company, who often climbs roofs and inspects rooftops for air conditioning installments.
A dangerous job? No doubt. That’s why she wears a harness on job sites, but it’s definitely not something boring.
Her family owned five pizzeria joints for nearly four decades but sold the business. A job opportunity was right in front of her eyes because of the refrigerators and AC units in the pizzerias. But she was undecided until a talk with her daughter.
“It’s a little dangerous. That’s why I wear a hard hat and harness. I love it. It’s physical, and I’m not in an office,” Owens said. “My daughter said, ‘Mom, you’re the only woman in Southern California who does this. It’s so cool.’ When my daughter said it’s the coolest thing, I took the job.”
It’s a tricky time for Owens and her two kids, surrounded by the issues of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement. As biracial children, Lily and Niccolo have faced the ugly issue.
“My daughter has been called outside of her name in a private school setting,” Owens said. “We’re supporters of the BLM.”
They recently had a nine-hour drive to Utah for a softball tournament for Lily. During the drive, the trio discussed different scenarios, such as Owens stopping for gas accompanied by two Black children who tower over her.
“It feels like our country that not everybody is onboard,” Owens said. “I’m teaching my kids to have self-respect and dignity and do the BLM with an education behind us. With the COVID-19 and BLM, it’s a double whammy for us right now.”
Luckily, the drive to school is about 27 miles away, and Bishop Amat, which has an enrollment of over 1,500, is adopting a hybrid teaching schedule. School will start Aug. 15.
Lily is taking a week break from club ball but will start up again next week for an 18-and-under team. She batted .411 during the club ball season and holds a 4.0 grade-point average, which makes her a major attraction. Stanford, Cal, Cal Baptist, Maryland, Texas, and BYU have expressed interest in the junior shortstop, whose profile gets a ding every time someone checks it out.
“She’s looking at a more academic school,” Owens said. “She wants to be a lawyer. She’s a speed demon and can knock a ball over the fence. That’s her dad’s power.”
When Lily was playing, the players didn’t wear masks on the field but wore them in dugouts and made sure to follow social distancing guidelines and took temperature checks. Niccolò has another tryout session for the basketball team. Until then, he’s working with a shooting coach, wearing a mask and bringing his own ball.
Owens is amazed in the intensity of the recruiting process by other parents. Back in her day, she didn’t have an online profile or videos. She cared for her mom when UHH coach Callen Perreira first recruited her out of high school. She’s thankful he recruited her again out of Fullerton JC.
“Being at UHH was definitely a beautiful experience that shaped me as a woman,” she said. “I’m grateful for UHH giving me an opportunity.”
The back yard has been a common ground for the family. Niccolo shoots hoops while Lily fields grounders from her mom. They’re cooking and working out a lot.
“We’re playing ball,” she said. “I’m climbing roofs for a living, and we’re staying active in that regard.”