The Shoji brothers bring attention to the family’s experience in internment camps.
K. Shoji Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Kawika and Erik Shoji, two of the biggest names in American volleyball, have played together their entire lives.
They started their second Olympic Games on Saturday night against France, and the sons of famed University of Hawaii women’s coach Dave Shoji had already pieced together outstanding playing careers of their own at Stanford and for the United States.
The Shoji brothers’ opportunity to play in their ancestral homeland of Japan has allowed them to pay tribute to other members of their family, most notably their late grandparents, who met and married in an internment camp before their grandfather fought in World War II for the United States as a member of the 442nd Infantry Regiment.
A lot to us,” Erik Shoji remarked.
Telling that narrative is something that our family takes great pleasure in. Neither the 442 nor the Japanese internment are widely known events. It would be wonderful, I suppose, to explain that.
Kobe and Chizuko Shoji’s narrative is connected to a dark period in American history. They both grew up in Southern California, although only 15 miles apart; they didn’t meet until after the darkest days of WWII.
In the wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which led to the incarceration of more than 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast.
Most were American citizens, but they were effectively locked up because of an unfounded concern that they would join the Japanese during World War II.
Survivors of the camps were compensated by a statute signed by Ronald Reagan in 1988, and they received an apology from Bill Clinton for “racial prejudice, wartime panic, and a lack of political leadership” decades later.
The Poston, Arizona, camp where Kobe and Shizuko Shoji First Crossed Paths.
I remember my grandma telling us this humorous story about how the boys would play football and baseball and the girls would just sit and watch, said Erik Shoji.
My grandma admitted to us that she watched our grandpa play because she had a crush on him and hoped to get to know him better.
Before Kobe left to join the 442nd Infantry Regiment and fight in World War II, he and his future wife found each other and tied the knot.
The majority of the WWII European-based unit were American citizens of Japanese ancestry who were the children or grandchildren of Japanese immigrants.
In spite of the fact that many of the troops, including Kobe Shoji, had spent time in internment camps or had relatives still there, they were willing to fight for their nation and ended up becoming one of the most honoured units in the war for the United States.
Kawika Shoji recalls learning about his grandfather’s war service and witnessing the Purple Heart and Bronze Star his grandfather had earned when he was a young boy.
Kawika Shoji described the tale as “an wonderful, interesting, untold story merely about loyalty and heroes.” I remember him telling me he enlisted because he wanted to “show his allegiance to our country.”
Even at a young age, hearing his story and learning of his selflessness and determination to get through that tough period was incredibly motivational. It reveals a lot about him and the guys he went to war with.
The Shoji brothers helped the United States win the bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and then returned to compete in the Tokyo Olympics two years later.
Even if they have no idea where their relatives are or if they have any left in the nation, the familial ties are enough to keep them going.
Both Kawika and Erik’s grandparents were avid sports fans in their day, and they got to see as many of their games as they could. They serve as motivational examples even now.
If they knew this was our second Olympics, “I think they would simply be over the moon,” Erik Shoji said. “Unfortunately, they are unable to view it, but we know that, at least metaphorically, they are. They would be so proud of us, I just know it. We’re glad to share some of their history and shed light on our roots.
On Saturday night, the United States opened Pool B play with a three-set victory over France, led by Erik Shoji’s stellar libero play.
That match was preceded by the day’s best, in which Poland, a heavy favourite to win the gold, was defeated by Iran in five sets. Iran advanced to the quarterfinals in their Olympic debut in 2016, and they’re off to a great start in this year’s competition after taking the deciding set 23-21.
Italy, the defending silver medalist, overcame Canada in five sets on Saturday, while Brazil, the defending gold champion, swept Tunisia, the host nation of Japan swept Venezuela, and Russia beat Argentina by a score of 3-1.
Her Time at the Olympics
- 2016 and 2020 Olympian; previous Olympic experience yielded a silver medal (bronze)
- The tenth Olympiad, set for Tokyo in 2020
- At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil, I won bronze.
Her Time Competing at the World Championship
- 2018’s bronze is the most recent.
- Involvement Years: 2014, 2018
- Placement: 1st place (1 bronze)
- 2008 Bronze
Details of her Private life:
Dave and Mary Shoji are the proud parents of.
Father retired as the women’s volleyball coach at the University of Hawaii in 2016 after 34 years on the job,
during which he won four national championships and amassed the most wins in the history of NCAA Division I women’s volleyball.
In college, Mary Shoji starred on the hardwood with the Rainbow Warriors.
Kawika tied the knot with his wife Megan in 2014.
In 2018, a daughter, Ada-Jean, was born. In 2020, we welcomed Lila-Joy, our daughter.
Is the older sibling of Erik and the younger sibling of Cobey.
For the United States men’s national volleyball team, Erik is the libero.
I like to read, play golf, and surf as hobbies.