Name and Team: Kalani Tonga, 13 Black Assistant Coach
“Day Job”: TAV Houston administrator and Competitive Edge social media specialist
Coaching: 17 American Division National Champions, 14 Open Division 8th Place, 13 National Division Bronze Medalists
Playing: WAC Newcomer of the Year, Volleyball Magazine All-American, 1st Team All Mountain West Conference, one of 8 players from the US chosen to go to Scotland, Wales, and England to play against their professional teams when I was a senior in high school, broke the University of Utah single season hitting record.
What is your favorite volleyball memory?
I loved playing at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in college for the WAC Tournament, and I loved winning the Mountain West Conference championship with my sister when we played for BYU.
Tell me about your family.
I have FIVE fabulous children: My sons, Ilaiasi (13) and Ovaka (7), my identical twin daughters, Kamila and Kalea (6), and my hot mess, Sofia, aka The Boss, aka Bathroom Ham, is almost 5.
What advice would you give to volleyball players?
Do the little things right. Over time the little things become the big things. Also, learn the entire game, not just the game from your position.
What is your favorite food?
My favorite foods are lu pulu and kumala (DELICIOUS Tongan foods), my dad’s teriyaki beef and chicken, and the steak gorgonzola pasta from Olive Garden. I also survive almost exclusively on Diet Coke.
What college did you attend? Did you play a collegiate sport?
I played volleyball for 2 years at the University of Utah and 2 years at Brigham Young University. I graduated from BYU, where I majored in History and minored in Music.
What is something you’re good at outside of volleyball?
I love music. I sing a little bit and I play the guitar and the ukulele. I also write for a couple of blogs and I am a published author.
What is your favorite book?
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo because I love the atonement/redemption theme. Incidentally, Les Mis is also my favorite musical.
What is your favorite song?
I’m gonna have to do this by genre. My favorite current song is Despacito – the Luis Fonzi/Daddy Yankee version, not the Biebs version. My favorite happy song is Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen. My favorite country song is Forever and For Always by Shania Twain. My favorite old school R&B song is Forever Mine by The O’Jays. My favorite reggae song is Float Away by Lady Rudy.
If you could meet 3 famous people for dinner, who would they be and why?
I’m fascinated by complicated, talented people who make the world a happier place. My 3 people would be Judy Garland, Freddie Mercury, and Robin Williams.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
I’m very proud of my ability to quote The Princess Bride, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and Uncle Buck from beginning to end.
What would your friends say are your 2 biggest strengths and 2 biggest weaknesses, and why?
My biggest strengths are my ability to persevere and my desire to make the world a safer, kinder place. My biggest weaknesses are my inability to keep from speaking out when I believe something is wrong and my overuse of obnoxious pics of my children as sarcastic replies online.
Why did you choose to coach at TAV Houston?
I believe in the people who work here, and in our common goals. I coach at TAV Houston because I love volleyball and coaching is in my blood. We work hard to make our players great people, both on and off the court, and I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.