After a five-year hiatus, the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Vulcan Hall of Fame returns with a September 4th awards luncheon to give long over-due honors to three remarkable persons: the Vulcans’ most victorious volleyball coach, a memorable basketball point guard and a softball marvel.
Former UH Hilo Volleyball Coach Sharon Peterson, point guard Mark Lovelace and catcher Melanie Hipwell will be inducted into the UH Hilo Athletic Vulcan Hall of Fame in a noon luncheon ceremony at the UHH Campus Center. Doors will open at 11:30 am.
Tickets are $25 and available through Hall of Fame Coordinator Glen Kagamida at 974-7543 or [email protected]. Ticket requests can be mailed to the Office of Intercollegiate Athletics, 200 W. Kawili St., Hilo, HI 96720-4091.
The nominations were submitted by former players and a sports writer.
Banners hanging at the UH Hilo gymnasium boast the seven national volleyball championships earned by the Vulcan Ladies during Peterson’s 25-year career at UH Hilo. Peterson also led the Vulcans to three national runner-up finishes. A five-time National Coach of the Year, she compiled a 511-251 record, averaging more than 20 wins a season.
Under Peterson players Flo Alo and Tanya Fuamatu earned National Player of the Year honors in 1988 and 1993, respectively. The Vulcan squad also earned 24 all-America honors under Peterson, who retired on in December 2002.
Peterson, who started her volleyball playing career on the beaches of Southern California, represented the U.S. in two Olympic Games, two Pan American Games and the World Games. She was selected National Player of the Year by the USVBA in 1969 and earned five other All-American honors. She played professionally in the International Volleyball Association and was named all-pro in 1975. She served as an assistant coach for the U.S. team at the World University Games in 1985.
Peterson was inducted into the El Camino Junior College Athletic Hall of Fame, California State University at Long Beach Athletic Hall of Fame, and NAIA Hall of Fame. In 1999, she was awarded the Flo Hyman award as an All-Time Great Player by USA Volleyball.
Peterson’s former players submitted the Hall of Fame nomination, writing “We want to acknowledge our Coach for her outstanding knowledge, desire, commitment, love and passion for teaching us the game of volleyball. We love you Sharon and we thank you for allowing us to be a part of this great history at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. The HAWAIIAN MAGIC still lives on.”
Peterson continues to share her knowledge as the boy’s and girl’s varsity coach at Hawaii Preparatory Academy in Kamuela, Hawaii.
Lovelace was the point man on the Vulcan men’s basketball teams’ rise to prominence during the 1976-77 and 1977-78 seasons, under Vulcan Hall of Famer and Coach Jimmy Yagi
In his letter of nomination, former Honolulu Advertiser reporter Hugh Clark wrote, “In that period, he was one of the big four, as I would describe Bill O’Rear, Gilbert Hicks and Jay Bartholomew. The first three have been anointed, of course. Mark was maybe the best defensive guard at UHH.”
All three were previously inducted into the Hall of Fame.
A native of Long Beach, Calif., the 6-foot-4 defensive machine ranks in the top 10 for steals in the season when he recorded 51 during his second season. Further in the record books, Lovelace offensive prowess stands as the most outstanding passer as his 455 career assists is 180 more than any other Vulcan. His 244 in his junior season and 211 in his senior season rank first and second in assists in a season.
After graduation, Lovelace coached at St. Joseph’s School and Waiakea High School. He moved to Oahu where he has coached the Kamehameha School-Kapalama’s team to an undefeated season and a Division II championship. He now works as a teacher/coach at Damien Schools.
Hipwell re-wrote the career records book as the Vulcans’ starting catcher for four years from 1997-2000. After her last at bat, she established seven long-standing career records that include games played (203), at bats (628), hits (233), runs batted in (146), doubles (37), walks (79) and fielding percentage (.976). She ranked second in triples (12) and third in batting average (.371).
A native of La Mesa, Calif. and a 1996 graduate of Grossmont High School, she also established season marks with 58 games played in 1997, 45 RBIs in 1998 and 30 walks in 1999. In 1999, she also committed just 2 errors behind the plate.
Nominated by former Vulcan Coach Callen Perreira, Hipwell (UHH ‘2001) obtained a Masters of Art in Teaching in 2004 and a Masters in Education in 2006. She is currently as special education teacher at Blossom Elementary in El Cajon, California. She is an assistant coach at Granite High School, helping them win the 2008 CIF Division I championship.