No divided loyalties for Tondi von Oelhoffen

Tondi von Oelhoffen will be in attendance Monday night when her alma mater, Hawaii, plays Oregon State in the women’s basketball opener at Gill Coliseum.

He makes it clear, however, that as proud as he is to have played for the Rainbow Wahine, he will be going to Oregon State. Von Oelhoffen’s daughter, Talia, is the Beavers’ leading scorer, and Tondi von Oelhoffen and her husband, Kimo, attend every Oregon State home game.

This game is the exception to the rule, as Tondi von Oelhoffen maintains close ties to the Hawaii program. Her niece, Meilani McBee, is a sophomore guard at Hawaii. McBee is from Kennewick, Wash., and was an AAU teammate of Talia’s. Also, Avery Watkins, a freshman forward at Hawaii, was a member of that same AAU team.

“I follow them, I watch their matches online,” said Tondi von Oelhoffen.

Tondi and Talia von Oelhoffen

Tondi von Oelhoffen, left, will cheer on her daughter Talia when the Oregon State women’s basketball team hosts Hawaii on Monday. Tondi von Oelhoffen played for the Rainbow Wahine and still has close ties to the program.

Photo provided

Von Oelhoffen was a standout multi-sport athlete in high school in the Tri-Cities and had multiple scholarship offers in multiple sports. He chose to play basketball at Hawaii and was a key part of that program in the late 1980s.

“Looking back, I don’t think when you go through everything, you fully understand how blessed you are until it’s all said and done. I try to tell my daughters, I try to tell Talia, enjoy every moment. These will be some of the best moments of your life,” von Oelhoffen said.

In addition to her athletic success in Hawaii, it is also where she met her future husband, Kimo von Oelhoffen. He eventually transferred to Boise State, largely to be near Tondi, who had graduated and moved back to the Tri-Cities, playing in the NFL from 1994 to 2007 , winning a Super Bowl as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2005.

Gallery: OSU vs. Western Oregon 17

Talia von Oelhoffen (22) scored 23 points in Oregon State’s 82-66 exhibition win over Western Oregon on Oct. 30. The Beavers open the regular season on Monday against Hawaii, which is the alma mater of his mother, Tondi von Oelhoffen. .

Kylie Graham, Mid-Valley Media

One downside to playing in Hawaii, however, is that her family had very limited opportunities to watch her play. The proximity of the Corvallis campus to her home in the Tri-Cities was part of the reason Talia von Oelhoffen chose Oregon State. Their home games are attended by as many members of the von Oelhoffen family as can make the trip, including grandparents.

Tondi von Oelhoffen said the first Oregon State game she attended with Talia was a big moment in the recruiting process. Both were able to see firsthand how Oregon State fans support the program.

“Oh my gosh, it’s the best thing ever. I think that’s one of the reasons Talia went there,” von Oelhoffen said. “We came on an unofficial visit … in 2019 and went to a game. I think I had tears in my eyes, it was so amazing, the support. It’s really exciting to play there. Everyone likes to play in front of big crowds , that makes it that much more exciting.”

Champions of the Great West

Oregon State did not schedule a light opponent for the season opener. Hawaii won the Big West Conference regular season title and the conference tournament a year ago. The Rainbow Wahine are the preseason pick to repeat as conference champions.

The team returns almost completely intact and also added transfer Lily Wahinekapu, who was the Big West Freshman of the Year last season playing at Cal State Fullerton.

“Veteran coach Laura (Beeman) does a great job. A team that has a lot of experience coming back. NCAA tournament team a year ago, finished really hot, 11-of-12, something like that.” Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said. “They won their tournament going away. Very impressive. So you’ve got a veteran team coming in, good game.”

That’s not the situation for Oregon State, which is working seven new players into the lineup, including five freshmen. That lack of awareness was on display a week ago in the first half of the Beavers’ exhibition game against Western Oregon. But in the second half, Oregon State also showed glimpses of its potential.

“We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, for us, but we made great shots. I loved how the ball moves. I loved our inner presence. I really enjoyed going through our post. I thought our space was phenomenal,” Rueck said.

The Beavers can be dumped against Hawaii. Transfers Bendu Yeaney and Shalexxus Aaron, along with freshman Timea Gardiner, did not play in the exhibition game. Yeaney and Gardiner will be out a little longer, but Aaron may be available for the opener.


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