Of course you have, if you follow volleyball. First, there is Dave Shoji, the father, who is a famous coach in NCAA. Then, Kawika Shoji, elder son, the setter of BR Volleys and also a representative of USA national team. And, last but not the least, Erik Shoji, younger son, libero of Hypo Tirol Innsbruck, and a hero of our story. Erik had an amazing 2013 year. He made a debut for USA national team and fulfilled his dream. And it all started from family home on those marvelous islands of Hawaii…
Your family is closely connected to volleyball, was that the main reason for you to choose this sport?
“I think volleyball is in our DNA as a family. My dad is a coach and my mom has coached the sport in the past. My brother is a professional volleyball player and my sister played in college. From a young age I was playing with a volleyball and I fell in love with the sport. As a family we have always enjoyed playing volleyball and watching volleyball. It has always been my passion and that is why I chose it.” started Shoji.
You come from Hawaii, is it true that volleyball is more popular there than basketball and football?
“It is hard to compare the sports with regard to popularity, but volleyball is definitely part of the culture in Hawaii. People are always playing outside in the parks or on the beach. People love the sport and they love to support the volleyball teams in the area. At The University of Hawaii volleyball is the most popular sport, and the men/women on the teams are sort of celebrities on the islands. Kids look up to them and support them at every match. Volleyball is very big in Hawaii and has produced many great players throughout the years.”
Enough about volleyball, it is holiday time after all. New Year is approaching, and speaking of Hawaii can you describe us a traditional way of celebrating special eve on your island?
“The New Year is very big in Hawaii. It is traditional to gather with many friends and families and have a party on New Year’s Eve. There is always a lot of food, drinks, games, and of course fireworks! Living on a small hill, you can see the smoke from the fireworks covering the whole city. On New Year’s Day I usually spend the day with family at the beach! Now that we are in Europe we try to meet up with each other when we can to celebrate the New Year.”
However, Erik won’t be at home for the holidays…
“I will spend New Year’s eve in Innsbruck, Austria. It is a beautiful city with amazing scenery so I am excited to spend that time here.”
So, no swimming for New Year’s Eve this time…
“Living in Austria it is way too cold to go swimming! There are a few lakes in the area but I would never go swimming! I like my water warm!”
Finally, from the high mountains of Innsbruck, Shoji has sent a New Year’s message to all volleyball fans:
“I hope everyone has a great New Year! Thank you to everyone for all the support wherever you may live in this world! This was such an incredible year and I am hoping for bigger, better things for everyone in 2014!”
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