Lahaina basketball star Maiki Viela now mentoring Maui keiki
LAHAINA – She is recognized as one of the greatest basketball players – male or female – to ever come out of the Valley Isle and the State of Hawaii.
Maiki Viela, Lahainaluna High School Class of 2011, led the Lady Lunas basketball team to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state championship in 2010, and along the way to earning a full scholarship to Division I Gonzaga University, she spearheaded the program’s unprecedented run to four Maui Interscholastic League undefeated regular seasons and championships during her interscholastic career.
That untouchable undefeated regular season record continues to this day and has reached 16 MIL titles and 148 straight victories for the Lahainaluna program.
Viela’s individual honors are a dreamy landscape as well. Parade High School All-American, two-time Hawaii Gatorade Player of the Year, HSAA Player of the Year and three-time All-State selection, four-time All-MIL and Player of the Year selection, Honolulu Advertiser and Star-Bulletin Player of the Year, and 2011 Hawaii Hall of Honor are among the accolades she received during her high school years.
All of this was capped with her accepting a full ride to attend Gonzaga University and compete on the Wildcats basketball team.
She spent three years at Gonzaga before transferring to Morehead State University, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Universal Studies, then completed her education with a Master’s in Business Administration and Entrepreneurship from Northcentral University while completing her basketball career playing in every game.
It is a hoops dreams saga that so represents the integrity of the Lahaina community’s emphasis to nurture in a motherly way -malama – generation after generation of our youths.
Specifically in Maiki’s case, she learned in the West Maui Youth Basketball League led by Dandy Don Rosenthal, the Menehune program guided by Al Dasugo and the Lahainaluna team guided by Todd Rickard.
It is no secret that the West Side youth programs have created a yellow brick road to success for the Lady Lunas and also to the boys team that has risen to championship caliber status in recent years.
Viela is quick to recognize Coach Todd as perhaps her most important influence in developing her into the exquisitely talented – yet humble and caring – person she is today.
“He (Coach Todd) is the one who really set me on course to become not only a basketball player, but as a respectful, purposeful and dedicated human being. He has been a major influence in my life,” she said.
Her high school mentor calls her a positive role model to all young girls on the island and in the state.
“If basketball is something you want to pursue after high school, and you are willing to put the time, commitment and hard work into it, then that (hoops) dream can become a reality,” said Coach Todd, now entering his 25th year with the program.
“For me, she is still one of the best players in the state to ever play the game, because of her understanding of how this game is played and what it takes to be successful,” he continued.
“But most importantly, she should thank her family for being an influential part of this journey she’s taken. Especially Coach (Lanny) Tihada, because Lord knows that he was a major influence in my life (as his football coach), and that led me to continue to give back to the community and to the school.”
Indeed, it is Maiki’s grandfather, Coach Lanny “Pops” Tihada, that she recognizes as the important influence in her life alongside of Coach Todd.
The Tihada ‘ohana has become an icon for their contributions to building the foundation for positive development of our community’s youth through sports and education.
Lanny stands quietly atop in the leadership of that effort. Without the fanfare he surely deserves, Coach has continued to mentor and contribute to the highly successful Lahainaluna football program – winners of two consecutive state Division II football titles – particularly in leading the Friends of Lahainaluna Football support group.
And now, after completing her sterling college education, Viela has come home to pay forward all of the positive energy that she received in her development years in the same vein that her family contributes to the integrity of the Lahaina community.
She has formed the Heads Up Basketball program to mentor young players in the manner in which Coach Todd and Pops Tihada did for her.
Heads Up Basketball provides personalized and group clinics for youth players from fourth grade through high school seniors.
The next clinic will take place on July 28-30 at War Memorial Gymnasium in Wailuku.
As an added bonus shot, the clinic will offer instruction by former Gonzaga players Danielle Walter and Keani Albanez, who plays professionally in Greece.
Sessions for the first two days will be held from 9:15 to 11:15 a.m. (grades 4-7) and noon to 2:30 p.m. (grades 8-12). The one-day fee is $45, while the two-day fee is $80.
There will also be a one-day clinic on July 30 featuring individual and small group sessions. The cost is $50.
For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit headsupbasketball.com.