Moanalua, the OIA, and Helping Develop Rainbow Wahine Women’s Soccer Staple Kelci Sumida

Moanalua, the OIA, and Helping Develop Rainbow Wahine Women’s Soccer Staple Kelci Sumida

Moanalua, the OIA, and Helping Develop Rainbow Wahine Women’s Soccer Staple Kelci Sumida 

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JULY 28, 2023

HONOLULU — Since her arrival in Mānoa, Kelci Sumida has made an impact on the pitch for the University of Hawai’i women’s soccer team. 

The partnership, which has been fruitful for both the Rainbow Wahine program and for the 2019 graduate of Moanalua, nearly never happened.  

If not for her twin sister and a California event giving her a taste of homesickness, Sumida was prepared (and verbally committed) to a Division I school on the mainland, Portland. After dominating the OIA together with Kelci on the attack and sister, Kaylee, defending the back-third for Moanalua, the twins had decided they didn’t want to go to the same school but somewhere close to each other.

Originally, Kaylee was leaning towards a school on the west coast as well. A sudden change of heart by the defender led to her commitment to Hawaii Pacific and left Kelci pondering if she would stay home as well.

An extended stay in California for a Surf Cup had the striker feeling homesick, making the decision much easier.

“I was like ‘If I’m homesick now, I don’t know how I’m going to last on the mainland’… so that’s when I decided to make my decision,” Sumida chuckled. “I emailed [UH head coach Michele “Bud” Nagamine] and five days later, I was committed.” 

The switch was a big get for the Rainbow Wahine soccer program, winning over the services of a four-time All-OIA selection who once tallied 16 goals in a single season for Moanalua en route to four division titles. 

The time with Na Menehune prepared Sumida both athletically and academically. While some student-athletes can take time in their first year at the college level to get their feet under them, Sumida hit the ground running. She played in all 16 matches, starting 15 while earning All-Big West honorable mention and a spot on the Big West All-Freshman team. 

The accolades didn’t stop there for the forward, receiving the UH Scholar Athlete Award to cap off a dynamic first year in green. The adjustment time needed for the college level? Nearly nonexistent.

“I have all positive things to say about playing at an OIA school,” she said when asked about the public school experience. “I think Moanalua high school is a great school, both academically and athletically… I think [being at an OIA school] gave me a lot of exposure the same way playing for a club team does.” 

Following a global pandemic wiping out a season, Sumida returned to the field with a fury for her second college season. She would lead the ‘Bows in goals, points and shots on goal for the season on the way to an All-Big West second-team selection. 

She also held it down in the classroom again, being named to the Academic All-Big West Honors Team while starting all 14 matches for Hawai’i. This past season, she helped lead UH to a .500 or better finish for the first time since 2018 while dishing the most assists in a single season of her career.

Sumida discussed the experience of playing with her sister throughout high school, her major, the advice she would go back and give her high school senior self, the local support she has gotten at all of her games and much more.

Each year, Kelci Sumida’s game has had to evolve as the ‘Bows continue to improve. The one thing that has remained the same? 

You just know, she’s going to be ready to make an impact.