Baldemor Takes Over At HPU

Vince Baldemor understands the history and looks forward to the future at Hawaii Pacific University.

Over the past 25 years, HPU has had just four athletic directors. The legendary Tony Sellitto guided the SeaWarrior men’s basketball team to a national title and the remainder of the HPU sports programs to three other national championships during his 15-year tenure as the athletics boss. J.D. Barnett came in for one tumultuous year before Jill Ward took over and built a strong foundation that would pave the way for the successful seven-year reign of outgoing athletic director Darren Vorderbruegge.

Vord oversaw a strong 13-sport program that won another national title, as well as two PacWest Commissioners Cups. When HPU president Geoffrey Bannister decided to separate the director position from its traditional coupling with men’s basketball coach, Vord moved back to his first love on the hoops sideline, where his team has profited from 100 percent of his attention this season. Bannister went across town to Manoa to tap Vince Baldemor, University of Hawaii’s chief athletic fundraiser and Ahahui Koa Anuenue president, for the newly created position of executive director of athletics at HPU.

Baldemor started his new job at the beginning of January, and by the time he and I got together at the

NCAA Convention in San Diego this month, he was invigorated by how things were going for the Sea-Warriors. Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams were winning impressively, the men’s and women’s tennis teams were expected to be nationally ranked again this spring, and the traditionally strong SeaWarrior softball and baseball teams were looking forward to their first games in early February. HPU also will host the PacWest women’s golf championships in April.

It’s a busy and productive time in Baldemor’s downtown athletic offices.

“The best part about my first days here is that we’ve got a really good team. Vord has been great – everybody’s been so helpful,” Baldemor says.

The 46-year old Hawaii Kai resident knows what his student-athletes go through on a daily basis. He still looks like he could get out on the tennis court as he did when he was a state high school champion in Ohio and a Division I collegiate player at DePaul. He later earned his master’s degree at Notre Dame.

“You don’t want to see me out on the tennis court now,” he jokes.

One of the major projects for Baldemor will be overseeing HPU’s new athletic department strategic plan.

“We also need to look at facilities and ways we can help our student-athletes with both their academic and athletic needs. I also want to build awareness of HPU both locally and nationally.”

HPU will begin the transition to operating Aloha Tower, where the school expects to have dorms, offices, classrooms and some of its recreation facilities. HPU also is looking at other properties in Honolulu as potential sites for its basketball/volleyball teams, as Aloha Tower’s buildings can’t be retrofitted to house a small arena there.

“We’re checking on some options,” he says. “We just need to make sure they fit our needs.”