THE FIRST PARK that couldn’t contain Jocelyn Alo is 100 yards from the ocean and 100 yards from the house where she grew up. There’s a fence separating the backyards from the ballfield now, and homemade signs dot the road that hugs the beach along Oahu’s northeastern shore. Keep the Country Country one reads, and New City, What a Pity is another. Everyone wants a piece of paradise, or at least a piece of what someone else believes that paradise is worth. The local Hawaiians know this story; it long ago settled in their bones.
Five generations of the Alo family have lived in this remarkable place, in the shadow of the razor-sharp green mountains, their tops shrouded in clouds. Jocelyn grew up as her father, Levi, did and his father and grandfather and great-grandfather before him: on a 2-acre lot with six family homes on Hau’ula’s Kukuna Road. At the end of Kukuna — Hawaiian for grow, fittingly — there are two iconic coconut trees that provide a sort of gateway to the beach. Levi proposed to Jocelyn’s mother, Andrea, beneath them, and several years later the family spread the ashes of Levi’s father, Pete, at the feet of those very same trees.
Over the years more houses have sprung up in the lots surrounding the Alo compound, but the charm remains. Chickens run from yard to yard, with no respect for property lines, and the breathtaking mountains — now famous for providing the setting for the Jurassic Park movies — are so vibrant it’s like seeing the world through a green filter. Some change is inevitable; Levi and Andrea have moved closer to Honolulu to make it easier to get to the airport on their journeys to the mainland to watch Jocelyn, the Oklahoma Sooners’ slugger who broke the NCAA softball record for home runs Friday night when she hit her 96th career homer at the University of Hawai’i, against the University of Hawai’i.
But back when Jocelyn — full name Jocelyn Aloha Pumehana Alo — was 4, there was no fence separating the Alo homes from the ballpark. She and Levi would walk the 100 yards with a bat, a bucket of balls and an unwavering belief — and yes, more than a little fear — that this little girl had the talent to take her far away from the life the Alos had sunk into this land. One thousand pitches a day …….