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February 18, 2014

Caradonna going aloha

William Hewlett and David Packard are famous for many things, including establishing the HP Way, a manner of business operations for their corporation. Reid Takatsuka, the women's head coach at Hawaii Pacific has established his own HP Basketball Way. It involves an attacking defense and an aggressive offense and now its latest acolyte is Christopher High senior Cydney Caradonna.

Also a member of the West Valley Basketball Club, the 5-foot-6 Caradonna recently made Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu her college choice for multiple reasons.

"I'm such a beach body and I love that lifestyle," Caradonna explained. "Plus, the team has a great camaraderie and I fell in love with the way they play -- up and down, fast-paced, well-oiled and intense."

To understand both this attraction and fit, here's Christopher High Coach Heather Stewart describing her team leader: "Cydney plays to win, with fire and passion and she's fearless. She has a great work ethic, is a good student and very personable."

Caradonna used the terms "toughness and tenacity" in describing her best basketball skills. "Let's go toe-to-toe because I'm extremely competitive. I have a big personality."

Probably connected to this is her viewing Larry Bird and Magic Johnson as her biggest basketball influences. "Magic is my favorite all-time player" because of his competitiveness and larger-than-life personality. For Bird, it's his "bloody knuckles, let's go, chip on the shoulder" approach that appeals. "I like to get my hands dirty whether I need to or not" is Caradonna's approach.

But it's also been a lot of hard work and effort.

"I've been blessed with athletic genes," Caradonna offered, "but I wasn't born a basketball player. I really worked hard at it." Her parents are athletic -- "my Mom was an amazing softball player, she had DI offers" -- but nothing came natural on the court.

As a freshman, Caradonna attended Valley Christian High but it was long ago in terms of her skill development.

"It was letting me be athletic, being what my body could do. I wasn't a basketball player as yet, just playing basketball. I had a low basketball IQ."

Upon her transfer back to Gilroy and Christopher High, "the coaches stopped letting me just be athletic."

Asked for her best basketball moment, Caradonna said, "My whole sophomore year but especially the heated rivalry we had with Monte Vista Christian. We beat them to take the league [but the teams split 1-1 in matchups]. It was really heated in the league tournament but everything clicked for us and we beat them by 32 (52-20). Our team wasn't the most skilled but it was the most hardworking."

Her plan is to major in journalism -- "that's my second passion" and she sports a 3.7 cumulative grade point average.

Here's an academic example exemplifying her competitiveness. As a fourth grader, her teacher strictly spoke Spanish. "I could sink or swim," Caradonna recalls. Her exposure to Spanish in the education realm first began when he was in kindergarten but it wasn't the predominate language used in instruction. Now, she is biliterate and bilingual as a result of this dual immersion.

Hawaii Pacific is a member of the PacWest Conference meaning family and friends, besides having a great reason to vacation in Hawaii during the winter, will be able to catch Caradonna in games on the mainland versus Academy of Art University, Dominican University, Fresno Pacific, Holy Names University, and Notre Dame de Namur.

So is it time to broaden the label and call it the HP/Caradonna Way?


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