The Nice People Awards 2013

University of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. AP photo/Rick Scuteri

University of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. AP photo/Rick Scuteri

I love this time of year. So much happiness and good spirit. It’s time for me once again to present my annual gift of thanks to many of the people who had a positive impact in the world of local sports during the year.

During this festive Christmas week, here now is my list of the 2013 Bob Hogue/MidWeek Nice People Awards:

Kelly Elms – You say you’ve never heard of her? Sure, you have! She used to be known as the ever-popular and super-talented Wahine softball player Kelly Majam. Besides graduating and being a finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year, Kelly also got married this summer. She’s now teaching physical education at Liholiho Elementary, while also spreading her wealth of softball knowledge as a part-time hitting instructor.

Howard Okita – After four decades as one of the most successful coaches in Island softball history, Coach Okita finally “officially” retired from HPU this past summer. But you can’t keep the coach away from his beloved field on the Windward campus. You will find him manicuring it beautifully as always, and don’t be surprised if he also helps out with the SeaWarrior team on an “unofficial” basis.

Mona Ah Hoy – What a job she did this year in her first season as the BYU-Hawaii women’s volleyball “interim head coach,” as she led the Seasiders all the way from a PacWest title to a NCAA Championships runner-up finish. Hopefully, she’ll be rewarded by shedding that interim title soon.

Marcus Mariota and family – Even though he didn’t end up in the national championship game or as a finalist in the Heisman Trophy race, the former Saint Louis quarterback showed tremendous courage and magnificent talent in leading the Oregon Ducks throughout this season. With the loving support of his ohana – mom Alana, dad Toa and brother Matt – don’t be surprised if he’s back in the hunt again next year.

Dunn Muramaru – One of the hardest-working baseball coaches you’ll ever see, Dunn led the Mid-Pacific Owls to the state championship again this year. That’s his fifth title and 10th appearance in the championship game in his 27 years of coaching.

Kale Ane – Soft-spoken and easy-going by nature, Kale showed his intensity on the gridiron in leading his Punahou football program to its second state title in the past five years.

Alika Smith – Still my favorite former Rainbow basketball star, Alika led his alma mater Kalaheo to the state boys basketball title, giving him state championships at both DI and DII.

Laura Beeman -She’s got the Rainbow Wahine basketball team off to a good start this season. Fans keep saying she’s the best leader the Wahine have had since Vince Goo.

Derek Inouchi, Brent Curry, Kevin Hashio, Kenny Cox and Kelly Leong – they’re the sports information directors for the five Hawaii universities. Derek at UH, Brent at HPU, Kevin at Chaminade, Kenny at BYU-Hawaii and Kelly at Hilo. Few fans probably know how hard they work keeping up with statistics and results, setting up interviews and stories and keeping everything running smoothly on game day, but I just wanted them to know how much they truly are appreciated!

Here’s to everyone who made a difference in local sports this year: You deserve the very best this holiday season. Thanks so much for all your efforts!