Monthly Awards

Athlete of the Month - September 2009 Lauren Van Heukelem - Hilo Water Polo Club

I want to nominate Lauren Van Heukelem from Hilo, HI for Athlete of the Month. Lauren plays water polo for the University of Manoa and she continues to surprise me with the amount of work and dedication she puts in everyday. Not only is Lauren an exceptional water polo player but she is a great friend as well. Lauren may look intimidating with her muscles but she is anything but a bully. She helps other people/students become better. She returns to her high school (Hilo High) every break and will go to swim practice or water polo practice and help the other players whether it be by giving them tips or pushing them to swim harder or faster. Four years ago when I wanted to learn how to play water polo I could barely swim let alone manage a ball while swimming.

Water polo is a rough sport as you well know and there were times where I was so tired I didn't want to go, but Lauren gave me confidence and the strength to continue. I think you should also know that I wasn't even a member of their team but yet of a rival team. Nevertheless she pushed me to work harder and go farther than I ever thought I could go. If I hadn't started playing water polo I would be completely morbidly obese but Lauren gave me a life where I can be healthy. I know you have a whole bunch of letters from other athletes that won Olympics or a huge national tournament, but Hilo, Hawaii is a small town that makes up a small state filled with a lot of beauty and Aloha. To me Lauren is someone I look up to. I have no doubt that Lauren will do great things and maybe even one day go to the Olympics and play water polo for the United States.

I would like to give her something that shows her how much we are all grateful and blessed to have her as a athlete, friend, or even a friendly competitor. Please believe me when I say Lauren is what Hawaii is all about, strength, beauty, kindness and love. Thank you for reading my letter, and taking time to read about my hero Lauren "the muscles" Van Heukelem.

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