Reasons To Smile and ‘Yuk’ It Up

HPU’s Garrett Yukumoto | HPU photo

I smiled when I saw that Hawaii Pacific University’s Garrett Yukumoto set the school’s all-time victory mark for baseball coaches.

Yukumoto surpassed Allan Sato when he picked up his 206th career victory earlier this month in the season opening series against visiting Augustana.

The record-setting victory came with an exclamation mark as the SeaWarriors won the game by a whopping score of 22-1. In the five game series against the visitors from South Dakota, HPU picked up four victories and scored 75 runs!

The SeaWarriors started the season ranked in the Top 10 in the West, and will host NCAA DII power Northwest Nazarene of Idaho this Thursday through Monday (Feb. 14-18) at Hans L’Orange Field in Waipahu. They begin PacWest play Feb. 28 at UH-Hilo.

Coach “Yuks,” as he is affectionately called, is in his eighth season at HPU and divides his time between his head coaching duties and being the vice principal at Wahiawa Community School. He does great work at both jobs.

I also smiled when I saw that Scott Wong’s University of Hawaii sand volleyball team has scheduled two emerging PacWest clubs in its opening tournament next month at Queen’s Beach in Waikiki.

The Wahine feature former Hawaii high school State Player of the Year Tai ManuOlevao of Punahou and five other local players on its roster (Kristina Kam, Shayla Hixson, Ku’ulei Zalopany, Courtney Lelepali and Ginger Long). Hawaii opens up against East Coast power Florida International March 15, and then has a four-team tournament that includes HPU, Chaminade and FIU March 16.

Wong has an outstanding volleyball resume that dates back to his championship playing days at Punahou and as an All-American at Pepperdine, so you know he is going to build this program and this sport into one of which the entire state can be proud.

Yet another smile crossed my face when I saw that a young student-athlete whom I had interviewed when she was a collegiate freshman had just won a major honor at Chaminade University now that she’s a senior. Dominique Bocanegra was given Chaminade’s Founder’s Award this week, emblematic of her major contributions to the school.

Bocanegra was a freshman women’s soccer player when I interviewed her in her hometown of Brisbane, Calif. I recall she had a big cheering section behind the Silverswords bench rooting her on. She played two years of soccer for the ‘Swords before making a switch to the Chaminade softball team as an out-fielder.

She’s also an outstanding student and was elected this year to lead Chaminade’s SAAC (Student Athlete Advisory Committee) as its president. She will graduate this spring with a degree in criminal justice. You can catch her and the rest of the Silverswords softball team in action when they open their season this Friday, Feb.15, at Central Oahu Regional Park against visiting Simon Fraser.

Finally, Hawaii baseball fans should be smiling when Mike Trapasso’s UH Rainbows play host to No. 8 Oregon this weekend at Les Murakami Stadium to open the 2013 regular season. The ‘Bows and Ducks go at it for four straight days, Thursday through Sunday, Feb. 15-18.

Put a smile on your face and get out to a ball game this President’s Day weekend.