Hawaii Five-O

Hawaii Five-O

Feb. 11, 2003

by Dan O'Connell

When one first meets Becky Hong one is immediately taken back by the soft spoken nature and friendliness of the Hawaiian native. As she casually walks over to the table where I'm sitting for our interview, the only give-away Hong is a water polo player is the Bronco water polo t-shirt she's wearing and subtle tan in the middle of winter. Her dark hair hides the chlorinated bleached tips that are a dead give-away on most players.

As Hong approaches she is stopped by a passing friend, looks over and gives me a nod letting me know she'll be over in a second. Watching her interact I can already tell she is not going to tell me how she has been a varsity starter for four years, that she's leading the Broncos in goals, shooting percentage, and steals this year. But that is Becky Hong for you. Humble, soft spoken, but one of the best Santa Clara has had.

While Hong is off to a fast start in 2003 it's only typical. In 2002 she found herself second on the team in goals (56), second in assists (24), second in shooting percentage and first in steals (80). Not to mention an All-Tournament selection at the WWWPA Conference Championships. If that's not impressive, her sophomore campaign was just as explosive.

Each and every year Hong has worked hard to get better-and it's paid off. "She is so dedicated to getting better. She's a dependable person and brings that into the water. She works hard." said senior co-captain Kelley Mays. But what makes Hong such a valuable commodity is not only her ability to score, pass and play tight defense but rather her sense and understanding of the game. Add that to a demeanor that is easy-going, fun, and hard-working and you have yourself a respected captain and ideal teammate. "Becky is a very complete player," commented head coach Keith Wilbur. "She can do it all; she has good speed and strength, can guard or set hole if needed, and has a great outside shot. I really don't think she has a weakness."

Hong's easy going nature seems to rub off on just about everyone she interacts with; coaches, teammates and interviewers alike. "I always think of her smile. She's always smiling and having a good time," added Mays. While talking to her I often found myself smiling and laughing. We consistently joked around and at one point Hong remarked that she has been answering questions like these since freshman year and still hasn't figured out the best answers to them.

Four-Year Starter Becky Hong

When I asked Hong about her practice habits the jokes were gone and she gave me one of the best responses I've heard from a player. "I try and lead by example. Even when I'm tired I try not to complain. I don't want people getting that in their head. I enjoy practice, but like everyone else there are times when I don't. Ultimately, I have to do the workout either way so I might as well have a good attitude about it."

Hong began playing water polo as a freshman at water polo powerhouse Iolani High School in Honolulu, Hawaii. As a three-time first team all-league selection she led her team to the state-championship game her senior year to a heart-breaking loss. A scholarship and the chance to be an immediate impact player brought her to the Mission campus. That, and the weather and culture of California were about as close to Hawaii as Hong was going to find without remaining on the islands. "I needed something on the west coast; somewhere closer to home. No matter where I decided to go it was going to be very different but Santa Clara just seemed like a great fit. I visited the school and it just really appealed to me."

The future looks bright for Hong. The Broncos look stronger than ever and are currently 2-1 on the season. "I'm so excited about the season. I think it's funny because I am always talking about it. We have such much talent and are so strong. We know what we need to work on and who we need to beat and everyone is determined to do it."

So what about after school? Hong will graduate in June with a degree in Combined Sciences. As for career aspirations Hong noted, "It's seems to change every month. But right now I would like to go to Pharmacy school in a year or two. I'm just going to take a year to get things in order, live with two of my friends and see where it goes."

You can root on Hong and the rest of the Bronco's at their next home game in the Leavey Pool on March 2 against Villanova University. Game time is 10 a.m. and admission is free.

Hawaii Five-O
February 11, 2003 Hawaii Five-O