Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 14 No. 4 | February 2022 19 ney’s homeHow baseball has led Jonah Hurney from Hawaii to Blacksburg By Mike Skovan Ask any baseball player: it’s about the journey. Even when that journey takes you four-and-a-half thousand miles away from home. Kamuela—or as the locals call it, Waimea. It is the Hawaiian hometown of Virginia Tech southpaw Jonah Hurney, tucked behind the volcano Kohala on the state’s largest and southeasternmost island, Hawai’i. “I would honestly compare it to Blacksburg,” said Hurney. “Kamuela is a small, little town. Everybody knows familiar faces around there. It is just a nice, welcoming environment.” Like many Hawaiian communities, Kamuela is quite family-based. Born there to his parents, Patrick and Mel, Hurney grew up as the oldest sibling to his two younger sisters, Kassadie and Makena, not far removed from many of his relatives. “My mom has five sisters who were born in Hawaii. Growing up, there were always big family gatherings. At Christmas, we would celebrate together with each of her sisters’ families, so I would see all of my aunts, uncles and cousins regularly. Everyone would be there.” Immersed in family on his mother’s side, Hurney gained his admiration for sport from his father, a former high school athlete, who introduced him and his sisters to athletics at early ages. “I was always playing with my dad, whether that was playing basketball or catch, throwing a football or something. We started at a young age. When I grew older, he and I would encourage my sisters to pursue sports, too. We were all involved in athletics.” To the Hurneys, no sports were out of bounds. Hawaii’s tropical climate—where the weather rarely deviates from a warm summer’s day—allows for year-round access to outdoor sports like football (the state’s most popular), soccer and baseball. While many of his peers elected to pursue football, many choosing to enroll in high schools on other Hawaiian islands with more prestigious football programs, Hurney decided to stay home, opting to stick with an indoor sport he had already developed a passion for. “I think basketball was the first sport I actually fell in love with. I would watch all these highlight videos. I just liked the pace, really. I liked going up and down the court, calling plays and playing defense.” Enrolling at nearby Hawai’i Preparatory Academy (HPA), where athletics were mandatory, Hurney adopted a three-sport rotation, sandwiching basketball in the winter between cross country in the fall and baseball in the spring. He was fond of everything the HPA athletics scene had to offer, drawing early academic interests in athletic training and physical therapy. But when high school was starting to take off, it was baseball—not basketball—that seemed to balance everything out. Continued on page 20