When Kara Ishikawa saw the 2003 women’s soccer schedule, she was in really excited. Ishikawa, along with fellow sophomore and Hawaiian Tiffany Todo, had been playing their soccer careers in exile.
Their families and fans at home experienced their successes vicariously through phone calls and the internet. Suddenly, with a stroke of good fortune Ishikawa’s and Todo’s collegiate careers were coming home. The Red was going to Hawaii to play in the OHANA Hotels and Resorts Soccer Shootout.
The journey home for Ishikawa and Todo, and road trip for the rest of the Red was an unequivocal success larger than the victory over the Division-I foe Hawaii.
“The trip was a huge step towards team unity,” said Emily Knight, senior tri-captain. “We molded together as a team. Everyone felt involved. We didn’t break off into small groups like in the past. It felt great.”
The Red traveled for more than 12 hours, first catching a flight from Syracuse to Newark and then connecting to Honolulu. The flight to Honolulu was punctuated by minor plane trouble that resulted in an unscheduled stop to refuel in San Francisco, and a scramble for food when in-flight meal failed to be adequate sustenance. But these were mere formalities. After all, paradise was within reach.
When the Red touched down in Hawaii that evening, it was greeted by Ishikawa’s and Todo’s families. They showered the team with fresh flower leis and hugs. The Red, briefly soaked in the warm weather and beautiful surroundings, then headed off to the hotel for some much needed rest.
Over the next couple of days, the Red split time between the beach, shopping, and soccer.
“I definitely went crazy,” said Emily Wyffels a junior and trip historian. “I bought a grass skirt, a coconut bra, Hawaiian shirts — all the staples of Hawaii.”
The greatest experience from the trip came when the Red taught a soccer clinic. The clinic was given for fifty boys and girls ages 9-12 who were members of a local club. The Red divided into stations to work with the youths. The clinic had special significance for Ishikawa, who had played for the club.
“Basically, in Hawaii soccer is a growing in popularity,” said Ishikawa, “The number of players that went on to play in college was limited. Now there are more and I think we gave girls and boys something to look up to –to strive for.”
The Red was surprised by the team’s hospitality.
“In Hawaii, everyone loves UH,” said Knight, “It’s the only D-I school. They loved us, they made us dinner, and wished us luck.”
That night, the team sampled the local nightlife, walking the Waikiki strip and enjoying local bands, radio stations, and food. The next day, a rested and relaxed Red beat the University of Hawaii, 2-0. Following the game the Red was visited by their new fans.
“It was so cute,” said Ishikawa, “After the game the girls came up to the team and asked for autographs. The team was so surprised. Some were on the verge of tears.”
With one day left of their vacation, some members of the Red had one last thing to do, surf.
“We went surfing just to say we did it. There really weren’t any waves. We got up on the board a couple times. We kept falling but we were in Hawaii we had to try,” Wyffels said.
The globetrotting Red left for Ithaca that afternoon, returning to Cornell Monday afternoon. The team was given a wet welcome as remains of hurricane Isabel lashed the area. It never felt so good to be home.
Archived article by James Rich