Siblings bond with basketball

Three Molina sisters have played together since they became interested in sport



WSU sophomore guard Celena Molina dribbles the ball down the court in a game against The Master’s University on Nov. 1 at Beasley Coliseum. WSU won 95-57.

JACKSON GARDNER, Evergreen reporter

The Molina sisters have a unique family dynamic. Chanelle, Celena and Cherilyn Molina, despite their contrasting personalities, have a relationship that has thrived off a mutual love for sport and competition.

Long before Pullman entered the conversation, the sisters crafted their competitive edge playing pick-up games in their hometown of Kailua Kona on the big island of Hawaii.

Whether it’s on the soccer pitch, on the volleyball court or under the lights at Beasley Coliseum, competing is as natural as sinking a free throw for them.

Both Chanelle and Celena are already on the WSU women’s basketball roster, and Cherilyn will soon join them. The sisters are very accustomed to each other on the court — they have played on the same team, for the same coach, for their entire careers.

At 8 years old, the Molinas began their basketball careers when a volleyball coach admired Chanelle’s athleticism and referred her to Bobbie Awa, the women’s basketball coach at Konawaena High School in Kealakekua, Hawaii.

Awa, who has won seven of the past 13 Division I state titles in Hawaii, coaches a youth club called “the Stingrays,” where all three Molinas played before attending Konawaena.

“I started when I was like 10, [Celena] started at like 8 or 9,” Chanelle said. “We start ’em young. Then, through high school, you play for the same coach.”

WSU first noticed Chanelle, the oldest of the three. Awa had ties to WSU through her daughter, who played for the Cougs from 2012-16. As soon as Chanelle signed, Celena and Cherilyn followed suit.

“We are just really comfortable with each other,” Chanelle said. “We couldn’t imagine me going off to college, then they go somewhere else. They wanted to follow me.”

What you wouldn’t expect from Chanelle and Celena is how dramatically different their personalities are. Chanelle is incredibly outgoing, while Celena is more reserved. Both agreed their younger sister would land somewhere in between their contrasting personalities.

“We are completely different people,” Chanelle said of herself and Celena. “We’re sisters and we’re related, but we don’t like the same things. She is in to make-up and all that, and I love going to the beach and hanging out.”

Chanelle said she was more into mastering her craft.

“I would just call up some buddies and go play some pick-up ball or something,” she said. “[Celena] would be like, ‘do you want to go to the movies?’ and get all dolled up. Me, I’ll just throw on my clothes and say ‘let’s go.’ ”

As for their game, the Molinas each play with a distinctive style that distinguishes them from each other. Chanelle proclaimed herself as the best shooter of the three, with no argument from Celena.

Celena, a former center at Konawaena, said she is the best at rebounding and playing near the basket, and Chanelle said Cherilyn is a true point guard, possessing the best passing skills of the three.

While Chanelle described her sisters’ playing styles, a comparison for the ages dawned upon her.

“I feel like the family dynamic with us and the Ball family are alike,” Chanelle said with a laugh, referring to the three basketball-playing sons of LaVar Ball. “The oldest one is the golden child, then you have the youngest with a lot of potential, but is still young, and the middle one doesn’t get a lot of attention but is still there.”

Except the Molinas’ dad doesn’t serve as their LaVar Ball. Rather, their mother is the one making all the noise.

“She would get so crazy during games,” Celena said. “Whenever the refs would make a bad call, she would scream and yell. My family wouldn’t even sit next to her. She would be in the front row, while the rest of our family would be sitting in the back of the bleachers.”