By Maria Vicente, Sports Editor
Arrival to the Hawaiian Islands can be followed by an apparent amount of culture shock. Now imagine taking on such an experience while also being immersed in the University of Hawai’i at Hilo’s athletics department. The Chronicle of Higher Education has recently named UH Hilo the most diverse four-year public institution in the country. When it comes to sports, isn’t communication amongst team members vital? So it seems that entering the sports world at UH Hilo could make for double the culture and double the shock, right?
Carlos Quijano, head coach for both UH Hilo’s men’s and women’s tennis teams, admits that it’s not entirely a struggle having to do with where the players come from. Quijano, a UH Hilo alumnus, was hired in October of 2014 when he was contacted about a head coaching job.
Originally from Brasilia, Brazil, Quijano knows firsthand what it’s like to be an international member of the University’s Sports Department. He currently works with seven women and nine men, all of which come from around the world. The diversity of Quijano’s tennis teams range from the Czech Republic to New Zealand to England and Saipan and all over the continental United States. Having also taught at other institutions and facilities on both sides of the U.S., Quijano has a bit of experience teaching different cultures, age groups and experience levels.
Still, the most difficult part about coaching such a ‘mixedbag’ of students, according to Quijano, is understanding the student’s personalities. “It’s not really hard to communicate because tennis is an international sport. If it were about speaking English, then yeah,” says Quijano about interacting with his players. It often has more to do with the personality of the player and being able to direct that person in a team atmosphere. Quijano mentioned that girls are sometimes more delicate to coach because they may get frustrated easily when under pressure. Sometimes certain males are so easy-going and relaxed and Quijano feels he doesn’t have to be as careful when coaching them. It all depends on the type of person he has to teach.
Quijano has been playing and coaching for most of his life. His energy and passion for doing what makes him happy and encouraging others to do the same, are unmistakable. He enjoys teaching at UH Hilo because it allows him to take tennis, a primarily individualized sport, and make a community out of it. Playing as a part of the University even sparks greater levels of competition and achievement. Instead of playing to achieve on their own, Quijano’s tennis players play to achieve as a team. He says that, “Elsewhere you play for yourself, but teaching here you have to teach people to work as a cohesive group. Everyone wants to be part of a winning team so everyone tries their hardest.”
While he loves teaching in Hawaii where the diversity is noteworthy and his co-workers are kind, Quijano admits that there are certain drawbacks. Namely, the rain, which makes it hard to play tennis. The courts are too slippery when it’s wet, and in Hilo, it’s wet most of the time. One other flaw he mentions of coaching tennis in Hilo is the lack of neighboring competition. Often the tennis team, and even most UH Hilo sports teams, have to travel to the mainland in order to compete. This means time away from school and expensive travelling costs. “It is most definitely worth it though,” Quijano says, “when everyone enjoys being together doing what they love.”
Quijano plans on continuing to coach tennis at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo for as long as the school will let him. He urges students to come out on February 5th to see his tennis teams in action, as this is the only home game they will have this semester.