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"A new year brings new opportunities"
By Kevin Kacatin
Dec. 28, 2010

HONOLULU, Hawaii --Aloha softball boosters!

Another year has come to an end, but a new one looms just around the corner and for the Rainbow Wahine softball program, it presents a whole new season filled with opportunities.

For the Rainbow Wahine softball program, 2010 was a historical and memorable season and filled with many moments that would be difficult to duplicate or surpass. However, once a taste of glory comes your way, you can't help but be hungry for it again.

In 2011, the Rainbow Wahine will be looking to defend their 2010 WAC regular season and tournament championships and will be seeking a return to the Women's College World Series. With a mix of talented and experienced returning players and a corps of motivated freshmen, the Rainbow Wahine have the makings of another wonderful season within their roster.

Off season notes:

- The holiday break is obviously not applicable to workouts for the Rainbow Wahine. The Rainbow Wahine are continuing their own workout regimens in their own time. The motivation to succeed never ends with this team as evident by the hard work that continues in the off-season.

- On November 11, 2010, head coach Bob Coolen officially announced the signings of Jordan Burton (utility athlete), Kayla Wartner (left-handed catcher/1st base), and Leisha Liilii (infielder and pitcher) as new additions to the Rainbow Wahine in the spring of 2012. 2011 will be the last season of eligibility for pitcher/outfielder/designated player Jenna Rodriguez, 3rd base player Melissa Gonzalez, and 2nd base/outfielder Jasey Jensen, a senior transfer from Utah.

- Coach Coolen will again be travelling to Australia in the beginning of January 2011. The Rainbow Wahine softball program has reaped the rewards from this continent producing such notable student-athletes such as Clare Warwick, Stacey Porter, Justine Smethurst, Brooke Wilkins, and current Wahine pitcher Kaia Parnaby.

-The Na Wahine Softball Booster Club is finalizing plans to release an exclusive "members-only" polo shirt by Under Armour. Under Armour, along with Easton, have been dedicated supporters of Rainbow Wahine Softball supplying the team and coaches with apparel, uniforms, cleats and shoes. More details will be available soon and will include a pre-order form to be mailed to current booster members. A portion of the sales to boosters will go towards the Rainbow Wahine softball program.

 

 

In this edition of the Na Wahine Softball Newsletter, we have had the pleasure of reaching out to another distinguished University of Hawai'i Alumnae and former Rainbow Wahine.

Tracie Uchima, is currently a veterinarian in California with the Crenshaw Animal Hospital and Cat Clinic. A Torrance native, she attended West Torrance High School and went on to earn her Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from the University of Hawaii, Manoa in 2005. Dr. Uchima completed her studies at the Michigan State University of Veterinary Medicine in 2009. While attending the University of Hawaii, Dr. Uchima was an outstanding collegiate softball player and was named NCAA Woman of the Year in 2005.

In the spring of 2004, Dr, Uchima was named to the All-WAC 1st team. She hit .322 in her junior season. Aside from performing well at the plate, Dr. Uchima was known by her fellow teammates as "Alien", mostly due to her defensive performances being described as "out of this world".

Dr. Uchima has been gracious enough to present Rainbow Wahine softball fans with her biography in her own words:

 

Wahine Softball Alumnae:
Tracie Uchima, BS, DVM
(2002-2005)

Following graduation from the University of Hawaii with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science I packed my things and headed to Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine to begin my professional degree as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). Life as a Michigander was far different when compared to my years living in Southern California and Hawaii. After a grueling and tedious four years, I graduated in 2009. I found my way back to my hometown in Los Angeles, and have been practicing small animal veterinary medicine since.

I am finally able to tell people that I have the career I always wanted, working my dream job after so many years of hard work and sacrifice. My work as a veterinarian is very rewarding and I love coming to work every day, but getting to this point was no easy task. Reflecting on it now, I am grateful for all of the experiences and trials I went through, but during that time I was very bitter and generally unhappy. When aspiring future veterinarians approached me about becoming a veterinarian I would be firmly against the idea and advise them to pick another profession. While still in school I felt the journey was long, difficult, and not worth the effort if I had known what was involved from the beginning. The only thing that kept me going was that I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel even though it may be 8 years long. Now out of school, I am able to encourage individuals into the profession, but I do heed a disclaimer stating that the journey towards a DVM includes very rough years.

My time at the University of Hawaii was a difficult challenge, but without the university I would not be where I am today. When asked about my collegiate career in Hawaii, there are always mixed feelings. I was miserable in Hawaii and did not enjoy my stay, but it was not because of the school or the program. The rigors and responsibilities of a student athlete are very trying as it is, but aside from softball and school, I was completing research work with Dr. Charles Weems, an active member of Rotoract (Rotary), and volunteering at the Hokulani Elementary School. Every morning at 5am, I would be at the research lab collecting blood samples for our research projects and cleaning up after the sheep. On weekdays, after a quick shower, I was logging in my required study hall hours or working out in the weight room. After spending time on the lower campus, I was off to the upper campus to attend classes. I always had to rush after classes, back down to lower campus, to receive treatment and get ready for afternoon practice. Depending on the time after practice, I would do extra exercises in the training room to improve my balance and coordination followed by another shower, dinner, brief study time or volunteer work, and some sleep only to repeat the process at 5am.

Depending on softball season, the weekend days were spent on softball workouts/games, 8 hours at the lab working on our experiments, and/or volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House. I rarely did anything for myself, rarely ever did anything fun with friends, and as a result I self inflicted a miserable four years of school. There were many times I wanted to quit and give up. The life of a normal student always seemed very attractive. To be a student without all of the responsibilities, sleep deprivation, or physical pain that I went through for those four years, crossed my mind many times. I pushed through it and as result I had a successful student career, athletic career, and later a veterinary career. Many people apply, on average 3 imes, before they are accepted into veterinary school and there are times where people do not get to attend the school of their choice. I was able to apply and was accepted to the veterinary school of my choice on my first attempt.

By seizing the opportunity, even when coming from the small school in Hawaii, anything is possible. At any other school, I would not have had the opportunity to be on a softball scholarship, receive a quality education, perform research work as an undergraduate, and complete volunteer work at the same time. This unique opportunity gave me the tools I needed to expedite my long term career goals that put me on track towards becoming a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.

I gave up softball on senior day and went on to pursue my career. A part of me was lost that day. I had played ball all year around for the previous 15 years. To say that I miss the game is an understatement. I used to dream about playing every night and Coach Bob along with my teammates would frequent my dreams.

My WAC Champion bracelet is safely tucked away in my jewelry box, and I wear my NCAA Woman of the Year ring every day as a reminder that I was once a part of something greater than myself. It was and still is an honor to represent the state of Hawaii and the University of Hawaii as player, alumni, and friend.