Aubrey Everett

Hawai’i's Kanani Danielson Has it All

by Aubrey Everett December 26, 2011 in Volleyball

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With roots winding far back into Hawaiian culture, the traditional name Kanani means “the beautiful one.” University of Hawaii senior and 2011 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award winner for volleyball Kanani Danielson has her own roots dug deeply into the chain of islands, and has worked hard to make both the volleyball world, and her local community, proud.

Living up to her moniker, Danielson has not only worked hard and given an immense amount of physical and mental strength on the court and in the classroom as part of the women’s volleyball program, but she has also consistently volunteered her time to local charities. The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award is an accolade that recognizes the outstanding achievements of a volleyball student-athlete in the “Four Cs”—classroom, character, community and competition.

The 5’10” outside hitter and native of Ewa Beach in Oahu has been an integral part of the squad since her freshman season, but it was during her senior year leading the Rainbow Wahine that she really started to hit her stride.

“I was really excited to take on this [leadership] role, because it only makes me a better person, a stronger individual. Not only on the court but as a person in life,” said Danielson. “I’m still learning a lot and trying to be a better person for my lower classmen.”

While it may have exciting aspects, being a student-athlete is often anything but easy. Between practices, traveling to away games, classes and homework, most students are lucky enough to just squeeze in a bit of a social life. Danielson has chosen to take a step further with consistent volunteer work in her community. Danielson was twice named to the WAC all-academic team, along with being a two-time CoSIDA All-American.

“It all depends on how well you can handle time management,” she said, uttering the golden words of most successful student-athletes. “There are teachers who care and understand that you are a student-athlete. As long as you show that you’re trying and that you are attempting to become the best student-athlete that you can be, things will work out.”

Danielson has spread out her valuable time among the Manoa Makeover campus cleanup, a reading workshop for students at the Ali’iolani Elementary School, and various beach cleanup projects, among other volunteer opportunities.

“It’s all about giving back. You always want to show that you’re appreciative for what’s been done for you,” Danielson said. “I shoot to be a role model for my younger sisters because they still have a lot more of their young lives ahead of them. And I try to make the world a better place, especially my own island.”

With the 2011 volleyball season over and her senior year of college drawing to a close, Danielson is optimistic about the future and hopes to be able to work within her favorite sport for many years. She plans to graduate in May, at which point she will begin to look for professional volleyball playing opportunities abroad.

“I plan to play volleyball as long as I can and as long as my body will let me,” Danielson said. “I’m not ready to face the real world yet as far as having a job job, and if volleyball is going to keep me away from that for a while, then I will certainly be doing that.”