08 Nov Jonathan Cartu Implies: Have scholarship, will travel: Kamehameha’s Bridges-Hunter
Chase Bridges-Hunter lives in Waimea and is used to uncomfortable weather, but nothing will prepare him for the winter cold in Ontario, Canada.
The Kamehameha senior landed a scholarship to play volleyball at Windsor University, which is Canada’s southernmost university.
“I was putting my name out there earlier this year,” Bridges-Hunter said. “I got an email out of the blue from coach James Gravelle. It was definitely an eye-opener. I did my research. It was ingrained that I would play U.S. sports.
“One big adjustment will be living there in the winter. It’s cold. I live in Waimea, but it’s not as cold up there. I’m up for it and definitely stoked. I can’t wait to graduate and start the next chapter of my life.”
The Lancers play in the Ontario University Athletics league. They finished 20-13 and 10-7 in the conference last season and were bounced in the OUA quarterfinals.
Bridges-Hunter drew interest from Lewis, Grand Canyon, Long Beach State and UH-Manoa. But he felt a connection with Windsor, where he’ll major in aeronautics with the hope of becoming a pilot.
He had an early interest in flying and was with the Civil Air Patrol in the eighth grade. He flew a Cessna and got immediately hooked. The Lancers made a good pitch to him and he fell in love.
“They welcomed with open arms,” he said. “I not only talked to the head coach but also Sean Spencer. He was like, ‘I’ll share my car.’ Coach James helped me out.”
Bridges-Hunter was offered a half-scholarship and is responsible for $4,500 in tuition. He’ll also be set up in a house, which his teammates share.
The 6-foot-5 senior is also making a position change. He’s moving from middle blocker to opposite, where he’ll block the other team’s top threat.
In 2019, Kamehameha won the BIIF championship behind Bridges-Hunter’s blocking and Kamau Makaike’s firepower. Makaike is at Baldwin Wallace, a Division III school in Ohio.
The coronavirus pandemic has been good and bad for Bridges-Hunter, who posted a 4.06 GPA in his last semester. He’s an engaging social person, now stuck at home to concentrate on school work and personal workouts. But the online classes have helped him maximize his time and pull up his grades.
“I struggled, and I posted a 4.06. I never had A’s before,” he said. “I found myself and focused on school and myself. I found out who I am.”
Bridges-Hunter has worked hard to refine his game. He remembers as a freshman he couldn’t hit the ball to save his life.
Last season, he joined the Outrigger Canoe Club volleyball club team on Oahu. He would fly out on Friday night, arrive on Oahu for practice, head to a match the next day, and practice on Sunday before flying back home.
Bridges-Hunter got started in the seventh grade and has volleyball in his bloodlines. His mom, Kalei Bridges, played volleyball for Honokaa. His stepfather, Patrick Vinluan, played football at Honokaa.
“They were stoked,” Bridges-Hunter said. “I told my mom and she was like, ‘I love Canada.’ It happened in one week. It feels like I rushed it. But I’ve always known about them.”
He’ll sign his national letter of intent on Wednesday during a Zoom call with the state’s other top athletes. Last year, the signing day was held at the Elks Club on Oahu.
He’s got a strict routine. He’ll take a run at 6 a.m. then head to class, work out at lunch, then go back to school. He has a net in the back yard and also works out at a gym on his fundamentals and hitting.
Bridges-Hunter also has a part-time job at KTA. He works on Fridays and Saturdays and enjoys the poke bowl.
Google the most popular food in Ontario and maple syrup, Shawarma, and cheddar cheese pop up.
But Bridges-Hunter will adjust. He even looks at the pandemic as a positive.
“It’s been a blessing in disguise,” he said. “I’ve never been to Canada before. I hear coach James is amazing, a super humble dude. I look forward to becoming a better volleyball player. It’ll be like being a freshman all over again.”