Kelci Fushikoshi signs to play pro basketball in Europe
LAHAINA — “I think she is the best ever all-around girl athlete to come out of Lahaina,” said Todd Rickard, when asked about Kelci Fushikoshi.
He should know. As the Lahainaluna High School basketball coach for the last 15 years, Rickard has led the Lady Lunas to five straight Maui Interscholastic League championships and a third place finish at last year’s state tournament.
He coached Fushikoshi throughout her seven years of menehune and high school hoops.
“Kelci did it all for us, and she also was an all-star MIL softball player that helped the team to their last championship in 2004,” Rickard said.
Fushikoshi, 22, who this year graduated from Menlo College in northern California with a degree in business administration, recently signed a contract to play for the Saalouis Royals of Germany’s Damen Basketball Bundesliga (Federal Women’s Basketball League) through the 2010-11 season.
She graduated Magna Cum Laude (earning a 3.7 grade point average) from Menlo, and while on the basketball court, Kelci spearheaded the Oaks’ rise in the California Pacific Conference (CPC).
Fushikoshi shined in the CPC with a league-leading 19.7 scoring average while being named Honorable Mention NAIA All-American and Cal Pac Defensive Player of the Year.
She earned three consecutive First Team All-Cal Pac selections, was named a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athlete and was an Academic All-American.
In her four years at Menlo after graduating from Lahainaluna in 2005, Fushikoshi put her name in the record books in 14 categories while scoring the second most points in a single season as a senior.
Fushikoshi holds career records in three-point field goals (147), three-point field goal attempts (407), free throws made (376) and free throws attempted (511).
She ranks second in points (1,319), field goal attempts (1,057), free throw percentage (.736), games played (111), and field goals (398); fourth in games started (84) and steals (120); fifth in scoring average (11.9) and assists (140); and sixth in rebounds (335).
Fushikoshi scored a career high 35 points in her final collegiate game — a one-point loss in the Cal Pac Tournament championship.
“For me, Kelci is a unique player who, from the sixth grade on, kept practicing to make herself be a better player,” said Coach Rickard last Monday, the day Kelci left Maui to begin her professional career in Europe.
“She was the kind of person who worked that extra time and never made excuses. She led our team to the top and she set the example for the rest of the team with the way she worked, the way she practiced.
“She is also a family oriented person who received great support from her parents, Connie and Dean (Fushikoshi),” Rickard continued.
“They went the extra distance for Kelci — pushed her just the right amount. That created a wonderful opportunity that few will get.”
Fushikoshi becomes the breakthrough professional female athlete from West Maui, and she is thrilled to take this momentous step in her life.
“I am excited to be doing this. To travel in Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Poland, and all over Europe and play basketball with the Saarlouis team. I’ll be getting a salary, room, board and medical while the team plays in the DBBL and the Euro Cup in November,” she said.
“I am just so happy and appreciative of all the support that has come from my first coaches in the West Maui Youth Basketball League, including Lyle Babayan, and on through the Menehune League and Lahainaluna with Coach Todd and Kent and Ian Aotaki. And, of course, my mom and dad were there all the way for me.”