Meet Hanalani Schools’ Basketball Star Keila Tsutsui ('19)
When it comes to basketball for Hanalani Schools senior Keila Tsutsui, it’s more than just winning games and shooting hoops. Through the guidance of her coaches Mr. Hiers and Ms. Wester, along with the support of her Hanalani teachers and friends, she’s learned the importance of leadership, integrity and teamwork.
“When I started out in basketball in fifth grade, I was the last person to make it on the team,” remembers Keila. In ninth grade, she was also the youngest and surrounded by seniors. “It was really my time to grow and learn about myself and my leadership style.” It was a challenge to speak up and be more vocal, but she soon learned how to be a stronger communicator. “Sometimes, you need to be a little more direct!”
Keila has been at Hanalani since third grade, and is now class president, taking charge of activity planning and being involved with her class. She’s learned – through both student government and basketball – that it’s important to have a bond with her friends and classmates. She’s also discovered how to motivate “her girls” by encouraging them not to give up and to have “a spirit of grit,” as she says.
And, perhaps most importantly, when it comes to basketball, she has a healthy perspective: it’s just a sport. “My coaches were great in teaching us that basketball is a sport and only a sport,” says Keila. “It’s a vehicle that we can use to honor and glorify God.”
Today, Keila is looking forward to playing basketball at Corban University on a scholarship. “It’s been a crazy ride! I’m very blessed for this opportunity,” says Keila. Her goal is to major in Christian counseling for high school students – a specific leading that she felt from God with confirmation from her student government mentors Mr. Pardine and Mr. Salter.
“I truly believe Hanalani has helped me prepare for the future through all the opportunities it’s provided, like through student government and basketball. It gave me a chance to grow not only academically and athletically, but spiritually and emotionally,” says Keila. “The teachers really care about the full student, and it’s great that they put Christ first, which really helps the student.”
For those who are interested in attending Hanalani Schools, Keila has a resounding: “Go for it! Hanalani has given me so many lasting memories. For me, it was when our girls varsity team played at Stan Sheriff Center when we went to states. It was a once in a lifetime experience,” says Keila. “I’ve met my best friends here who will be my lifelong friends.”