Kamehameha grad Kamau Maka‘ike hopes to be kingpin for Baldwin-Wallace’s volleyball foray

  • Tribune-Herald file photo Kamau Maka'ike, a 6-foot-1 outside hitter, led Kamehameha to the BIIF title in 2019, when he landed on the league’s first team. His senior season was wiped out by the pandemic, but he's primed to play NCAA Division III volleyball in 2021.

Kamau Maka‘ike is learning to tolerate the cold weather in Berea, Ohio.

The 2020 Kamehameha graduate signed to play volleyball at Baldwin Wallace, a Division III school, which will start its inaugural season in 2021.

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He was his own recruiting coordinator and used the power of YouTube to land a merit scholarship from the Yellow Jackets, who’ll play in the Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League.

“I was sending out emails to a couple of colleges,” Maka‘ike said. “Coach Kyle (Mars) reached out to me. He saw a little highlight video I posted on YouTube. He liked what he saw and contacted me. We kept in touch and it went from there.”

Maka‘ike will major in environmental science and hopes to work for the Department of Land and Natural Resources someday. He flew up Aug. 18 and has found comfort with the campus and people.

“I really like the people on campus. They’re really friendly. It reminds me of home,” he said. “The big thing is the weather. It gets really cold here. Right now, it’s an average around the high 60s and low 40s. In October and November, it’ll get really cold, hitting the 30s. That’s a big change for me.”

Kamehameha coach Sam Thomas thinks his former Warrior will be a good fit. The 6-foot-1 outside hitter led Kamehameha to the BIIF title in 2019, when he landed on the league’s first team.

“He’s a tremendous natural talent,” Thomas said. “He’s very competitive and would often be overly critical of himself.

“As a person, he was often looking to lift the spirits of teammates who may not have been having a good match.”

The Warriors paid the penalty as the No. 3 seed, losing to ILH runner-up Punahou, the eventual state champion, in the quarterfinals in straight sets.

After a lost senior season to the coronavirus pandemic, Maka‘ike is hard at work to jump start Baldwin Wallace.

“We started practice last week, with small groups,” he said. “The pin hitters practice together. Because of the coronavirus, we’re taking precautions to stay safe. We’re putting in work three times a week and two times a week we’re lifting weights.”

Baldwin Wallace has mixed learning. Some classes are in person and some are online. Masks on camps are mandatory. Maka‘ike is embracing the change, the weather, the different environment and the level of independence.

“It’s definitely a new experience for me, coming out this far from home,” he said. “It’s a big change, stepping out of my comfort zone. But I’m taking advantage of this opportunity to grow. I’m really liking it up here.

“In my free time, I hang out with my teammates, meet new people, and mainly work out for the season. It’ll take extra reps in the gym and head to the weight room to get stronger.”

Maka‘ike had the typical volleyball experience growing up, starting in the seventh grade and joining Pilipaa in the eighth grade.

“I became the player I am because of them,” he said. “My head coach, Ecko Osorio, really impacted me as a player. He basically taught met everything I know about volleyball.

“The assistants had a huge impact on me, like Mamane Namahoe. He played at UH and came back home to coach. It’s really huge to come back and give back to the youth. I’m grateful for that.”

The Yellow Jackets will carry high hopes on the court in 2021, even as a first-year program.

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“I’m looking forward to Baldwin Wallace’s first year in volleyball. We’re setting everything in stone,” Maka‘ike said. “Our main focus is to be a nationally competitive team. We’re striving for that.

“Individually, I want to be an all-conference player, to be among the best I can be.”

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