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VOLLEYBALL, CHURCH WORK KEEP BISHOP ON HIS TOES

Being a bishop in the Church can keep a person jumping, but All-American volleyball player Bishop Fred Hiapo of the Lanakila Ward in Honolulu, Hawaii, jumps higher than most.

For 16 years, Bishop Hiapo, a member of the Outrigger Canoe Club, has received accolades for his volleyball play. This year he was named All-American in the Golden Masters division and helped lead his club to a division championship at the national tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah.Hiapo's involvement in sports began in high school, where he set a state swimming record in the backstroke and played on the state-championship basketball team.

Volleyball was not a school sport at the time, but Hiapo frequently played on the beaches. It was through the game that he became acquainted with the Church.

He was playing in Oakland, Calif., after moving to the mainland, when an LDS cousin saw a golden opportunity to introduce him to the gospel.

Hiapo played with the Oakland 4th Ward, which went to the All-Church volleyball tournament in Salt Lake City in 1996. It was there that the seed of testimony planted by his cousin began to sprout.

He remembers walking around Temple Square and seeing the statue of John the Baptist standing over Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. He asked a Church member who was with him what was being depicted.

In response, the member explained the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood and asked Hiapo if he would like to know more.

"The missionaries were at my doorstep on the third day back from our trip, and it wasn't long before I was baptized," Hiapo explained.

His Oakland ward won three all-Church volleyball championships, twice defeating the Lanakila Ward, where Hiapo would later serve as bishop.

Since then he has continued his involvement with the sport, coaching in wards and high schools and serving for seven years as regional commissioner of the U.S. Volleyball Association.

Despite his heavy involvement in volleyball, Bishop Hiapo is quick to acknowledge the importance of the Church and his family in his life. In fact, volleyball has helped bring his family closer. His three children - Debbie Ann, Brian and Fred Jr. - are accomplished players. "My wife, Carolyn, has never played," he said, "but she is my greatest fan and a terrific supporter."