Cataluna column perfect on Ah Mow-Santos’ match attire

Many of you don’t get the paper so have missed a few of the recent letters to the editor about what Ah Mow-Santos wears to coach in the arena and what the letter writers thing she should be wearing.
My response has been: She’s on the court and participates in warmups. She’s not going to wear a skirt and high heels.

Ah Mow-Santos had a response on Facebook that included the comment that “I am in compliance with my contract which says I have to be in UNDER ARMOUR GEAR.

so here is Cataluna’s column

Female coach is on a court, not a catwalk, so deal with it
By Lee Cataluna
September 27, 2017
Head coach Robyn Ah Mow-Santos

She is an Olympic medalist.
She is a working mom with three young kids.
She has held down the home base for a military husband who served in Iraq.
She has the guts, and the credentials, to take over for the winningest coach in the school’s history.
It’s nobody’s business what Robyn Ah Mow Santos wears to do her job.
There have been low-level grumblings from low-level grumblers about how Ah Mow Santos should spiff it up a bit for televised games.
“I feel the dress code for Ah Mow-Santos and her staff should be a little more Hawaiian or more dressy in nature than dressing like it’s another practice session,” one self-described Wahine fan wrote to the newspaper.
Another supposed fan found Ah Mow-Santos’ appearance “disrespectful.”
“Hawaii is the land of elegant informality. It should be easy for Ah Mow-Santos to represent herself with a little class. For her own sake,” he wrote.
For her own sake. Wow.
Those kinds of statements are examples of objectification, reduction to appearance, the treatment of a person primarily in terms of how they look.
It’s like her coaching abilities are secondary to appearance, and that her professional responsibilities include looking a certain way to please a certain segment of the audience interested in the aesthetics of athletics.
And what exactly has she been wearing that is allegedly disrespectful and lacking class? Gym wear. In a gym. Because she’s the coach. Horrors. And guess what her T-shirt says? “Hawaii Volleyball.” OMG.
What if a man tried to wear athletic wear to coach a sport? Yup, these same people probably would have nothing to say about it, even if his T-shirt was stained and his pants were ill-fitting.
That being said, if Ah Mow-Santos wanted to wear a pencil skirt and heels to the gym, that’s her prerogative, too.
It is especially infuriating that superficial judgments about a professional woman’s appearance somehow hold enough weight to be discussed publicly. These are backward comments that people should be ashamed to speak out loud. They should be shut down with an annoyed, “Really, man? What is wrong with you? Not cool.” Maybe we can hope for a time when “helpful wardrobe hints” for a female coach never even cross a spectator’s mind. Patsy Mink fought hard for Title IX and female students’ right to equal participation in athletic programs. When those female students grow up to be head coaches, they are entitled to the same equality and respect.
Following Dave Shoji as coach of the Wahine makes Robyn Ah Mow-Santos pretty much the bravest wahine ever, but even so, no woman has to earn the right to wear whatever she wants to work as long as it lets her do her job effectively. Maybe, in a show of support for the coach, every true Wahine fan will show up to games dressed exactly like Coach Ah Mow-Santos. Well, actually, most of them already do.


  1. bg September 27, 2017 11:22 am

    YES! YES! YES! Bullseye!!!
    I may not agree with every article she writes, but she does write with great honesty and impact. Kudos

  2. Andrew September 27, 2017 11:40 am

    I’m both surprised and at the same time not surprised fans are complaining about her choice of game day clothing. Surprised because why should it matter? As long as she is in compliance who cares? What they should care about is the quality of her coaching and how she is getting the team prepared. At the same time, I’m not surprised because people seem like they need to complain about everything. I’m sure if the team was even undefeated and ranked in the top 5, people would still be writing in and complaining about the same thing.

  3. Cheryl H Terawaki September 27, 2017 11:45 am

    It is just horrible to think that supposed fans of the Wahine Volleyball program would criticize Robyn for the way she dresses at games. She is an outstanding athlete and human being and doesn’t deserve this. We should all be supporting her efforts and I for one am very proud that she has chosen to come back to Hawaii and work with our program. Shame on those people who criticize how she dresses!

  4. 2left September 27, 2017 11:53 am

    I disagree with Lee’s coaching this as a gender discrimination issue. If Robyn needs to wear athletic clothes to participate in warmups that’s fine, but I don’t think most people realize that. Other than for that reason, if Eran Ganot showed up for games in a t-shirt and sweats I’d think “C’mon man. You’rerepresenting your team, the school and the state of Hawaii.” And I’m generally not an old fashioned kind of guy, but I’ll admit that’s how I was raised.

  5. Casual Observer September 27, 2017 12:16 pm

    No. 3. Yes I would agree. There probably is some psychology behind what a person wears or appears that may have some affect on perceptions and outcomes. If the team came out and wore bland hand-me-down uniforms, or just stenciled plain t-shirts, there would be outcry. In Ah Mow’s case, no one want to force her to wear a dress and heels because that’s not who she is. However, it has to be something showing pride for UH, Hawaii, the VB program and its fans as its leader presenting such. Doesn’t have to be fancy but she can do better.

  6. shar September 27, 2017 1:31 pm

    I always felt that the visiting female coaches who wore heels were more concerned about their appearance. In fact, I remember we could only wear rubber soled shoes in the gym at school. At this point, I prefer Coach Rob is comfortable so that she can coach. She is not dressed shabbily and making comments about her clothing is disrespectful and offensive. Perhaps, the comments should be addressed to Under Armor and not the coach.

  7. 2left September 27, 2017 1:44 pm

    5. But isn’t it sexist to assume that a female coach who wears high heels is overly concerned about her looks? Would you say the same about a male coach who wears cowboy boots?

  8. 2left September 27, 2017 2:11 pm

    5. Sorry to single out your comment. My point is that Cataluna’s claim of sexism is misplaced. People have different opinions about proper attire. Personally, if a coach showed up immaculately dressed like John Wooden, I’d think that’s great.

  9. tako September 27, 2017 2:19 pm

    IMO: As far as this dress issue is concerned, it is between the Coach and AD.

    As a fan hoping the team continues to improve, wins the BW or earns a berth into the NCAA tournament. And, with the remaining 3 scholarships the Coaches’ sign impact recruits; at least a quality setter and OH. Go Bows!

  10. rabbit ears September 27, 2017 3:58 pm

    Not a biggie. But a collared under Armour shirt would help with coach as well as Aven Lee.

  11. FitTrainer September 27, 2017 4:22 pm

    8. I agree this issue is between the AD and the coach.

    However, there are several things in this article that I do not agree with. Firstly, that “These are backward comments that people should be ashamed to speak out loud. They should be shut down …”. People are entitled to their opinion. Many people have grown up with different values and ideas. There are many older fans that believe in perhaps “casual dress” attire for the coaching staff. These people should not be ashamed to express their opinions or to have a discussion in a respectful manner. Some people are downright rude and are “shamers” and that is different than someone who respectfully disagrees. I don’t think promoting anyone to shame anyone for their opinions is good practice.

    Secondly, just because someone may not agree with the way the staff dresses does not mean they are not fans…”self proclaimed fan” or “supposed fan”. Some just may have different values.

    Thirdly, I don’t think that someone who is opposed to the dress code of the staff is necessarily “sexist” or that it is necessarily “gender based”. Again, it might just be their values. They’re not all saying the staff should wear skirts and heels.

    The dress code issue might just be one of the least important topic for discussion. I would much rather talk about the team and their progress!

  12. menehune September 27, 2017 5:10 pm

    Methinks Robyn should wear a muumuu and slippahs. Hahahah. People (fans?) are more worried about how Robyn “looks” than how she coaches.

  13. chink September 27, 2017 5:10 pm

    I don’t think anyone is calling for a dress/skirt/heels. I think like rabbit mentioned, a collared shirt (a la Baxter/Castello) would suffice… it looks presentable and more professional at the very least, as opposed to a t-shirt….business casual would you say?

    kind of like this…
    looks presentable, yet fits with her casual style.

  14. Bleachercoach September 27, 2017 5:22 pm

    People need to get a life! There are more important real matters going outside the sports arena like “wars and rumours of wars, earthquakes in diverse places, famines and pestilence in many countries.” Nobody is going to care what Robyn wears to volleyball matches if the nuclear war sirens go off! Really?

  15. chink September 27, 2017 5:33 pm

    13) I guess, no one should attend wahine matches as well, because you know, who cares that there is a game on a Thursday night when there is more important matters going outside the sports of arena like “wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes in diverse places, famines, and pestilence in many countries.” You overreact just as much as those losing their hair over how Robyn dresses.

    Do I think she should dress more presentable, yes (a UH polo shirt would do just fine). Do I care if she does or doesn’t at the end of the day. NO.

    Win, and the last thing people will be talking about is her wardrobe.

  16. Isleboy September 27, 2017 6:21 pm

    Coaches dress like coaches…polo shirt with team logo.
    Players dress like players…game uniform. Enuff said…

  17. Hot September 27, 2017 6:30 pm

    Regarding Burns and dismissing the issue as the two freshmen are better. I disagree. Those two may look good in practice, and Howling hits like a typical powerful middle, but the stats don’t lie. Burns HAS PROVEN that she can help this team. She did so last year, and she has hit .375 and .333 against BYU and Baylor, respectively this year. For the record, Howling is hitting .139 and Williams .246.

    Except for Williams hitting .318 against San Diego, and Howling hitting .500 against UCI, none of these two’s performances indicates that they’re heads and shoulders better than Burns. I’ve always thought she was slow in closing blocks, but 6’5″ is 6’5″ and she has been effective as a blocker.

    So if Burns isn’t traveling because she’s injured and isn’t cleared to participate, that’s fine and that’s all there is to it. But to mention that the two freshmen are better as if that had something to do with Burns’ lack of playing time is not fair. Again, those two may look good in practice, but it’s the actual matches that matter and for those two matches that Burns played, she did well. Well enough to be in the mix.

  18. kalua pig September 27, 2017 6:58 pm

    ah-mow santos is dressed appropriate.

  19. islandman September 27, 2017 7:26 pm

    You think she should go on the local radio ESPN 1420 show(s) for an interview ? Maybe in the future. She is informative on TV.

  20. Pamela September 27, 2017 8:07 pm

    I think she should go on court dressed like she always does with all her medals she won !!!! Haters cannot accessorize like her !!!

  21. z September 27, 2017 8:23 pm

    The thought never entered my mind. Must not be important.

  22. auntyz September 27, 2017 10:18 pm

    Wish we’d been told her attire is related to the UH and Under Armour contract. Wish her shirts were as nice looking as the ones I see football coaches wearing. Guess Under Armour does’t see a market sitting 6000+ strong at wahine games.

  23. GoBows September 27, 2017 11:40 pm

    It is not so much that I think Coach Robyn doesn’t dress up with girly attire but the fact that her choice does not come across as being a professional. Her position is very prestigious and she should treat it as such. I’m not saying to wear stilettos and cake on make up but wear something a notch above “warm up attire”. Shoji never sat on the bench in “warm up” clothes.

  24. rage September 28, 2017 4:14 am

    I looked back at some older footage of Wahine games and when Robyn was an assistant coach she wore the same type of clothes. There was also a male head coach that was wearing shorts, but he probably didn’t get any complaints.

    Get over it, move on. This is not a story. I remember when people use to dress up when they went on an airplane or to church, some do some don’t, who cares.

  25. Living on the mainland now September 28, 2017 5:33 am

    As the head coach, I wish she would at least wear an aloha shirt. Although she is in compliance, I always enjoyed the fact that when the games are on TV, I see the coaches in aloha shirts and it reminds me of home. You are representing an image, not only of yourself, but also presenting an image of the school and the state. Just a thought.

  26. Ron September 28, 2017 5:51 am

    Thanks for posting Lee Cataluna’s article. I would have missed it. Nothing to add to her comments. I do not always agree with Lee but this time I do !00%. It is a non-issue. Besides, I think Robyn is cute. I am 37 years older than her so I can say that. Lets get back to volleyball.

  27. Volleyball Fan September 28, 2017 10:48 am

    No female coach should have to wear high heels. Not only are they uncomfortable, but they are very bad for the feet. I was even surprised to hear from OC sports (I was in the mainland at the time) that Robyn Ah-Mow made a wager with the team that if they would beat Utah that weekend, she would come in a dress and high-heeled shoes the following week. For that reason, I was actually rooting for the team of Adora Anae to beat UH, so our coach wouldn’t have to wear those stupid shoes. (I wouldn’t mind the dress.) Thus she was spared of her own folly.

  28. cocobean September 28, 2017 1:39 pm

    Family and volleyball has been Robyn’s whole life. Her attire is appropriate in her world. She’s been playing VB from small kid time through high school, college, pro and the Olympics. She coached club ball after her playing days and progressed to being a college assistant. She left her assistant gig because her family situation necessitated a move to LV. While still settling in she took up club coaching there. The way she dresses for games here reflects the life she has been living. She’s an active game coach who roams her side of of the court shouting instruction and encouragement at all times. She dresses for comfort within the guidelines of her contract.

  29. chink September 28, 2017 1:49 pm

    I’ve always hated the term snowflake… I get it now 🙁

  30. NorthShoreFan September 28, 2017 2:55 pm

    Would like to see Coach Rob in full uni. She looks like she can still play!
    Maybe sneak her in for a couple of points!…LOL!
    Nope, the way she dress for a game is alright by me. if she should show up in a dress, I probably wouldn’t recognize her.
    Petty comments about how she dress for games is just that…petty.

  31. chink September 28, 2017 3:35 pm

    Again, who’s asking for her to wear a dress?

  32. cocobean September 28, 2017 4:05 pm


    No one is asking her to wear a dress. There are those who feel she should dress more “appropriately” for her position. This has been the topic of discussion in both the print and electronic media. Yesterday both Animals aired their views on this matter with Chris flat out stating he thinks she should dress more appropriately since she’s representing the University and the State. That she should dress more professionally then she is now.

    That’s what prompted me to post what I posted.

  33. chink September 28, 2017 4:23 pm

    27) Yes, I understand that the conversation was about an appropriate/presentable attire. My post was in regards to post # 25. “if she should show up in a dress…” There are those who see “dress up”/ “dress appropriately” meaning wearing a dress, thus my post 26 ” Again, who’s asking for her to wear a dress?

  34. chink September 28, 2017 4:25 pm

    …It’s those assuming that “appropriately dressed” means wearing an actual dress, and that’s not the case.

  35. Mel September 28, 2017 7:55 pm

    Whatever, Stop picking on the female Coach. Hey, Guys go pick on the offensive line coach what he is wearing, if you got balls. She is doing a great job. She can wear anything, as long it is green.

  36. turfwar September 29, 2017 12:52 pm

    Can we move on to a new topic yet?

  37. tako September 29, 2017 2:30 pm

    With High School volleyball season in swing, maybe we’ll get more previews of potential recruits. Trinity C. updated her U-tube video with a “short” window highlight about 9 hours ago.

    Next week will be a BIG week with Cal Poly and Santa Barbra coming to town. Go Wahine.

  38. Cindy Luis September 29, 2017 3:24 pm
    new thread up for Friday

    Thanks for all the comments. Very insightful
    as for Burns, just my opinion that the freshmen are better. especially their footwork. Have been to most of the practices and that’s what I’ve seen
    Part of the reason the hitting percentages are low for Howling and Williams is the set location is too low for them. They get up quickly. Remember Higgins have the same issue with Magill until they had more time to work on it.
    30. then you should have come to the alumnae match. She set most of the night. Still has beautiful hands.

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