The Top 100 UH Football Players
Wednesday - June 24, 2009
A little bit about this and that, as the summer of 2009 begins:
* Hats off to our sister newspaper (the Honolulu Star-Bulletin) for its Centurions Project. The counting down of the 100 greatest players in University of Hawaii football history takes me down memory lane and also makes me really look forward to the upcoming football season. UH opens against Central Arkansas on Sept. 4.
* I can’t imagine trying to pare down a top-100 list to the final 10. I took a look at UH football letter-winners over the years, and my personal top 10 included 15 names - and I probably missed a few (maybe several). In no particular order, I had Al Noga, Colt Brennan, Pisa Tinoisamoa, Tommy Kaulukukui, Chad Owens, Gary Allen, Timmy Chang, Jason Elam, Garrett Gabriel, Blaine Gaison, Ashley Lelie, Michael Carter, Jeff Sydner, Joe Onosai, and Jesse Sapolu. How are you going to pick a No. 1 from that elite list?
* You should see my list of players who were just out of my top 10? Rich Miano and Davone Bess and Raphel Cherry and Niko Noga and Eddie Klaneski among them - the names go on and on. And point of reference is a huge factor. I moved to Hawaii in the ‘80s, so I didn’t get to see the football players before that. Old-timers are sure to have some great memories of the Rainbows prior to their joining the WAC, including MidWeek‘s Larry Price, who should definitely be on the list.
* I’m excited about the two new hires to the UH athletic department. Dana Takahara-Dias and Charlie Wade are not only quality coaches, but also quality people.
* When I first heard that Charlie was being considered for the Warrior men’s volleyball job, I smiled. I remembered how hard he worked during his tenure as the top assistant to Wahine head coach Dave Shoji, and how successful and how well-liked he was in that position. But more so, I knew how much he loved these Islands. It was no wonder that he was choked back with emotion when they announced his hiring at a late-May news conference. Charlie Wade may have been born and raised in Southern California, but he’s a local boy through and through.
* “Nice” is the first word I thought of when Dana was announced as the new head coach of the UH Wahine basketball team. That’s because niceness ought to be her middle name. The former Moanalua high school coach has always treated everyone she’s been around with class, dignity and respect - and she’s honestly the personification of what it means to be “nice.” Anybody who has seen her coach, and those who remember her as a Wahine player, will know that she also means business when it comes down to competitiveness. Her strong character and strong work ethic will make the Wahine basketball team fun to watch again. The addition of three-time State Player of the Year Shawna Kuehu - her first big name recruit - will help, too.
* Speaking of women’s basketball, Jeff Harada’s Hawaii Pacific University women’s team is going “jazzy.” That’s the nickname of Harada’s newest big name recruit, Jazzmin Awa-Williams. Jazzy was the former State Player of the Year at Konawaena High School, where she led her Big Island team to two state championships in four years. She’s transferring to HPU from Colorado State-Colorado Springs, where she averaged more than 13 points a game this last year. She’ll join another former Konawaena all-stater, Mana Hopkins, in the SeaWarrior lineup.
* Congratulations are in order once again to the folks at BYU-Hawaii. Not only did the Seasiders win the PacWest Commissioner’s Cup this past year by winning five conference titles, but they just won the prestigious PacWest Academic Achievement Award, too. The award goes to the conference school with the best combined student-athlete Grade Point Average for the year. BYU-Hawaii’s student-athletes graded out with a 3.154 GPA, barely edging out the previous year academic champ, Notre Dame de Namur, who came in second at 3.139. The overall conference student-athlete GPA was an impressive 3.0.
* Finally, I can’t sign off without mentioning that I might be one of the luckiest Major League Baseball fans around. On a recent trip to the Mainland, I got to see an Angels home game and a Dodgers home game. I got great seats, had great company, and was really enjoying myself except for the fact that both home teams were losing big in the late innings of both games. That’s where the lucky part chipped in. First, the Angels stormed back from an 8-1 deficit to win 9-8 in the bottom of the ninth, and then the Dodgers came back from a 5-1 deficit to win 6-5 in their last at-bat. It’s not true that I was offered an immediate flight to Vegas.
Hope you have a lucky summer, too!
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