Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Sunny Mahe PWS Interview
Brigham Young University
"I think Polys make great athletes because being an athlete is a valued trait within the culture. I also think that it is viewed within the culture as a doable way of bettering their future circumstances."
Hailing from Allen, TX, Sunny Mahe was recruited to play collegiate volleyball at BYU in Provo, UT. Although the Home Economics major did not finish her degree, she hopes to do so when the opportunity arises. Now a mother and wife to former BYU football star, Reno Mahe, Sunny established herself as a standout volleyball player for the Cougars as she was named to countless All-American accolades and records. Mahe is the daughter of Lee and Kathy Tonga.
Q: Coming from Allen, TX, how were you able to get recruited to BYU? I participated in club volleyball and we would travel to various tournaments across the country where college coaches would come to recruit. Also, I tried out and was selected for the Junior National team as a freshman in high school and each consecutive year. I'm sure this helped my visibility as an athlete.
Q: How did you decide BYU would be the best fit for you? I took all 5 of my recruiting trips and BYU was where I felt most comfortable. As an LDS athlete, I was unimpressed by the party scene and I felt BYU was somewhere that I could fit in without apologizing for my beliefs.
Q: Was there a large Poly population while you were there? There was a really great group of Polynesians at BYU when I was there, both athletes and non-athletes. I don't know the actual number of the people, but the quality was unmatched ... in my unbiased opinion, of course.
Q: Were there a lot of Polys where you grew up? We grew up about 45 minutes away from a large Polynesian community. People where I lived really didn't know much about Polynesians except what they saw on Hawaii 5-0 and Johnny Lingo.
Q: What was your best experience as a volleyball player at BYU? I would have to say that the best thing that I remember from my time at BYU is all of the incredible people I was able to meet and the lifelong friendships that were formed. I honestly don't remember a lot of the specific games or win-loss records, but I do remember my teammates and the friends that would come to my games to support me.
Q: Besides meeting your husband, what other opportunties did BYU present? BYU gave me the chance to explore what I really believed. It gave me the opportunity to meet and observe people and professors that I admired and hoped to emulate. It provided all the tools I would need to be a good student, regardless of whether I used them.
Q: Did you graduate? What degree? I did not graduate. I was a Home Economics major - I believe they call it "Marriage, Family, and Human Development" because it sounds fancier.
Q: What does yor collee degree mean to you? For now it's still a dream to pursue when the opportunity and time arises to complete it, but I kind of feel like I jumped straight into the work force in my field. My major allowed me to take classes in cooking, sewing, nursing, decorating, home design and child development and education that has been invaluable in my job as a wife, mother, and homemaker, which truth be told was my dream job from day one.
Q: Had it not been for volleyball, how different would your life be? I cannot even imagine what life would have been like for an average looking, sometimes socially awkward, 6'2" Polynesian girl without volleyball. Thank my lucky stars that my Pops made me be an athlete.
Q: Did you play against any Polys while in college? I can't remember ever going head up against my Polynesian friends in college, but I played with and against many throughout high school during the club season. Malia Malu I believe played at Fresno State, Logan Tom played for Stanford, Amy Nihipali played at UCLA, there were a few others, but it was a lifetime ago when I used to go out in public wearing spandex.
Q: Why do you think Polys make such great athletes? I think Polys make great athletes because being an athlete is a valued trait within the culture. I also think that it is viewed within the culture as a doable way of bettering their future circumstances. Athletics was a great equalizer in my life. I didn't have the brand name clothes or a nice car to drive, but that didn't matter on the court. It was ingrained in me from an early age that sports was going to be my ticket to college because my parents couldn't afford to pay for my education and wouldn't have known how to help me search out and apply for academic grants and scholarships.
Q: What was the most coveted award you received at BYU? I don't know how highly "coveted" any of my achievements were, but I was on the All-American Team as a freshman, I made the All-Tournament Team at a few tournaments, All-Conference a few times and National Player of the Week a few times. I think I may still hold the single game hitting percentage record, maybe not though.
Q: What was the hardest thing about transitioning from high school to college? I would say the hardest thing about the transition for me was the realization that if I did not go to class, no one would notice or care. This was a terrible thing for my gpa my freshman year. Also, just learning how to budget money was difficult for me because I never had an allowance or anything at home, and my job in high school basically just paid for my gas and ice cream cones for my little brothers so getting a check every month was intimidating and fantastic.