Turtle’s tale

Story behind Yavapai third baseman's nickname is incredible

Yavapai’s Rashaan Kuhaulua is playing well in the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, hitting .500 with seven runs scored, one home run and five RBI for the Roughriders. What makes Kuhaulua’s success fascinating is that he drowned when he was two and was revived by his father. Where Kuhaulua was found earned him his nickname. Kuhaulua was found floating on a turtle in Kuai, Hawaii, before he was revived by his father. Turtle, as he’s now known, wears his nickname proudly and represents his fondness for turtles with his necklace, right.

Yavapai’s Turtle Kuhaulua connects on one of his three hits Wednesday in the Roughriders’ 15-14 victory over Cisco at Suplizio Field.

Yavapai’s Rashaan Kahaulua wears a turtle necklace with pride as a reminder of his nickname, Turtle, and how he received that nickname when he nearly drowned at the age of 2 in Hawaii.

His name is Turtle and he’s from Hawaii.

Rashaan Kuhaulua, the Yavapai College (Arizona) third baseman is having a pretty good Alpine Bank Junior College World Series. He has a smiling personality, good bat, nifty glove and a special nickname.

As with all nicknames, there’s a story behind the moniker.

Kuhaulua smiles when asked to share the story. He’s accustomed to being asked why he’s nicknamed Turtle.

It starts from where he’s from — Kauai, Hawaii, which is home to many turtles.

One in particular played a huge role in the sophomore getting his nickname.

It’s a scary story with a happy ending.

“When I was a little kid, I think 2 years old, I went to the beach with my parents,” he said. “I went swimming with my brother and he wasn’t paying attention to me. My parents were wondering where I was.”

Then came the stunning part of the story. “I guess I ended up drowning.”

Now comes the turtle part.

“They thought I was on a pile of rocks just floating in the middle of the water,” Kuhaulua said. “My dad ran out to pick me up and I was on a turtle’s back. Ever since then I’ve been Turtle.”

The youngster had to be revived.

“I was black and blue all over and my dad did CPR on me until I came back,” he said.

Kuhaulua has told the story so many times he does it without any emotion, but it obviously left an impression on him.

He likes the nickname and wears it proudly, just like his necklace — a marble turtle hanging from a black cord.

Kuhaulua’s family members haven’t seen his success at JUCO, but they are with him in spirit.

Abe Kuhaulua, Rashaan’s father, was headed to Grand Junction to watch his son play in JUCO but ran into some travel problems. But he did send a message out on Twitter.

“All I asked him was play hard… That he did, first at-bat he hit a three-run home run, end of the night with four RBI and named player of the game. Love you, keep playing the game you love. 808 represent.”

The 808 is the area code for Hawaii.

Turtle’s older brother, Ashkhon, also sent out a Twitter message with a photo of Turtle hitting in the first game.

“Little bro doing work at #Grand Junction! Extremely proud of this kid.”

Of course, he included a turtle emoji in the message.

Turtle isn’t a bad nickname — especially when you have a Hawaiian name.

“I don’t mind being called Turtle at all, besides most people butcher my first name anyway,” Kuhaulua said, smiling.

The Yavapai coaches were quick to share the nickname story when Turtle arrived.

“As soon as I got here, the coaches told everyone that my name was Turtle,” he said. “I had to tell the story a few times but the story’s been passed around enough that most people already know it.”

After such a horrifying incident, Turtle said his mom wanted him to remain land-locked, but on the island of Kauai, there’s water everywhere.

“My mom didn’t want me to go near the water again, but my dad threw me right back in,” he said.

He grew up hitting the waves on a boogie board and diving. And also playing baseball.

Playing at JUCO has been a dream come true, he said.

“This is very exciting, it’s a great experience, I’m really enjoying it,” Kuhaulua said after the Roughriders’ win on Tuesday.

Playing in front of the huge Suplizio Field crowds has been quite an experience.

“(The coaches) warned us about it when we first got here, but there’s a lot more hype than I thought there would be,” he said. “It’s intense, but once you get into the game, it’s OK.”

Turtle helped make sure Yavapai would continue its JUCO run, scoring five runs — including the game-winner — in the Roughriders’ 15-14 win over Cisco (Texas) on Wednesday.

If Yavapai wins the national title, that would be a good story.

Almost as good as how a third baseman from Hawaii became known as Turtle.


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