Aug. 23, 2007
The following story by Hilary Dyer ran in the August 21, 2007, edition of the Molokai Dispatch (Hawaii).
When Kealani Kimball played volleyball as a young girl on Molokai, she probably never dreamed the game would take her around the world - but it has. Kimball was recently chosen to represent USA volleyball in the 2007 FIVB China Challenger at the site of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Kimball is the daughter of Ron and Camron "Camie" Kimball and grew up on Molokai. She graduated from Kamehameha Schools in 2000, and went on to attend college at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) where she majored in business and played volleyball. The college retired Kimball's number 18 jersey in honor of the outstanding contribution she made to its women's volleyball program.
Even after the retirement of her LMU jersey, Kimball continued to play volleyball at various events, such as this year's Beijing Challenger.
"Basically it is a rehearsal for 2008 games. The format of the tournament and facilities are all exactly what it will be like at the Olympics, even the dancers," said Kimball in a blog she is keeping on her alma mater's Web site. "It is unbelievable to think that in exactly one year there will be Olympians competing for gold in this exact venue."
Beach volleyball seems like a very American sport - so what is it like playing in the sand in the Far East?
"The people in China love their volleyball!" said Kimball. "Adrenalin immediately kicked in when we walked into the brightly lit, roaring Chaoyang Stadium. There were upward of 3,000 people cheering and it was televised on the local station in Beijing. I was so energized and pumped."
In the end, the USA team that Kimball was a part of lost to a team from China, ending their time in the tournament. Of the eight teams that advanced to the last round, five were from China.
"China has definitely set the tone and is proving to the world that they are serious about their beach volleyball and are more than ready to compete for gold. The time and effort these Chinese athletes put into beach volleyball is really evident and is paying off," Kimball wrote to her readers on the LMU Web site.
Though she was disappointed by the loss, Kimball was hoping to cheer up by touring the Great Wall. During her time off the court, she was also able to do some sight seeing, visiting Lama Temple and the Imperial Palace.
"China has been wonderful. Being from Hawaii, I am biased to think that Hawaiians are very hospitable. However, I do think the Chinese give us run for our money," said Kimball.
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