The Nice People In Isle Sports

Bob Hogue
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Wednesday - December 31, 2008
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As we come to the end of the year, it’s fitting to once again honor the sports people who have made a true difference in my life and your lives over the past years. Their integrity, passion and true joy for the games they play make them role models for all of us - and above all, they are truly nice people.

Here now are the 2008 Bob Hogue/MidWeek Nice People Awards:

* Manti Te’o, Punahou football and basketball. Few athletes can attest to be named Linebacker of the Year and Eagle Scout in the same season. Even fewer can say they were Sporting News Prep Athlete of the Year for the entire nation. But beyond the unprecedented state high school championships in both football and basketball, Manti also is a leader with class. In the recent all-star football game between Mainland and Hawaii/Polynesia, tempers flared for a while late in the first half. The coaches gathered each team to the sidelines to calm the players down. On the Hawaii/Polynesia sideline, Manti got down on a knee and led all his teammates in a prayer. There was no more untoward behavior the rest of the game.

* Kale Ane, Cayman Shutter, Dalton Hilliard, Kimo Makaula, Robbie Toma, Punahou football. The easygoing head coach of the Buffanblu led a star-studded senior class to its first-ever HHSAA state football title. While Te’o is still deciding his college choice, Shutter and Makaula have committed to play for the University of Hawaii, while Toma and Hilliard will head off to UCLA.

* Greg McMackin, University of Hawaii football. There is something about Coach Mack that makes him instantly likeable. Perhaps it’s his ability to come off like your favorite uncle. Maybe it’s the fact that he admits he loves to wear leis, but throughout this roller coaster ride of his first coaching season at UH, he’s made life as a Warrior football fan exciting.

* Greg Alexander, University of Hawaii football. Soft-spoken and easygoing off the field, the gentle giant from California is a true battler on the gridiron. Like a younger version of Ben Roethlisberger, he was just the kind of leader the Warriors needed in this rebuilding year for the program.

* Tara Hittle, UH Wahine volleyball and basketball. Just the mention of her name should make you smile. The 6-foot senior from Colorado has been the called “the funniest player” UH has ever had. Her positive nature and her practical jokes keep teammates in two sports hopping. As Coach Dave Shoji says, “It’s impossible to be down around Tara.”

* Jim Donovan, UH athletic director. An excellent communicator and always accessible, the former football star and Hawaii Bowl executive has immersed himself in his new duties as leader of the university’s athletic department. In tough economic times, a better leader could not be found.

* Amanda Whitford, BYU-Hawaii women’s cross country. For the second year in a row, she won the individual title in the PacWest. She also led the Seasiders to the women’s team title while earning a coveted spot in the NCAA championship race. She has proven that you can successfully balance athletics, academics and married life. Her husband Joe (Jr.) is the son of the longtime Kahuku High School athletic director.

* Michele Nagamine, Kamehameha, HPU and Leahi women’s soccer. How is it possible to juggle directing and coaching championship-caliber teams in high school, college and the club level? Michele, with her happy nature combined with a tremendous work ethic, makes it happen.

* Daryl Kapis, HPU women’s volleyball. The Sea Warriors’likeable head coach had a great year in turning around the fortunes of the HPU women’s volleyball team. He stays in shape by leading his team up the steep slopes of Koko Head or by chasing around his year-old son.

* Dr. Edison Miyawaki, sports philanthropist. The first Hawaii-born part-owner of an NFL franchise (the Cincinnati Bengals) is a huge fan of Island sports and a big booster for the Chaminade athletics program. He’ll be helping spearhead the efforts for the Chaminade Athletic Gala and Hall of Fame in early February in Honolulu.

To all these people - and many more - I say thank you for your great contribution to Hawaii sports!

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