Kalani athletes sign to play in college

Lucy Fagan, Sports

On Tuesday, Nov. 26 two Kalani female athletes signed their intention to play for mainland colleges. Senior Paulina Ruelas will attend the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota next year and Maya Hamaoka signed for Westminster College in Utah. 

Seniors Paulina Ruelas, a four-year Kalani swimmer, and Maya Hamaoka, a four-year volleyball player, signed to continue to play their sports in college on Tuesday, Nov. 26. Photo by Lucy Fagan 2019.

The University of Sioux Falls contacted Ruelas through her Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) profile. She has been swimming since she was seven and was accepted into the college’s division ll team, ranked 11th in the nation. Ruelas will attend the school on a partial scholarship. 

“I’m excited to have a chance to continue my athletic and academic career at Sioux Falls,” Ruelas shared.

Hamaoka was accepted into Westminster College in Utah for volleyball and plans to study nursing. She was in communication with the school throughout her junior year. Scouts from the college watched her play in Las Vegas last February and offered her a spot on the team in April 2019. Hamaoka will be attending Westminster on a full merit- and athletic-based scholarship.

Hamaoka said she is excited but also nervous to leave everything she knows behind and travel to the mainland. She looks forward to the personalized education that she will receive at the small liberal arts school. 

“I thought that was important for my learning because I learn better in small environments,” she explained.

Kalani High School counselors said they are excited to see their female athletes get signed by prestigious mainland schools.

“The stereotype for Kalani kids is that we’re not that athletic,” college and career counselor Lisa Hayashi explained. “It’s nice to highlight and celebrate those who are going to be able to play at the next level.”