A Very Sporting Birthday Celebration

This past week, I celebrated my 61st birthday. So what does a middle-aged sports enthusiast do in his birthday week? As much as I can!

I cheered on the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at Aloha Stadium; I climbed up to the pill-boxes to get a great view of Wind-ward Oahu; I kayaked out to the Mokulua Islands; and I snorkeled at Hanauma Bay. I hiked the steps of Diamond Head; I bodysurfed at Kailua Beach; and I strolled along the sands of Lanikai.

What else, you ask? I gave thanks for being one of the luckiest guys around—I get to write about sports for MidWeek, and I get to brag about sports in the PacWest.

Here are just some of things I thought about this week while staying active, active, active:

The University of Hawaii has a chance to win plenty of games this year, especially if their defense plays like it did in the opener against nationally ranked Washington. Taz Stevenson, a do-everything high school star at Mililani several years ago, is now a ‘Bow defender, and he was an absolute beast in his first game — leading the team in tackles against his former teammates. On offense, I would give the ball to Joey Iosefa as much as he can handle. Iosefa plays much bigger and stronger than 6-feet and 245 pounds.

I was excited to hear that Coach “Bud” Nagamine led her Rainbow Wahine soccer team to the title in the Ohana Hotels and Resorts Classic with thrilling wins over Northern Illinois and Seattle. Coach Bud has an infectious enthusiasm — if wins were handed out based on passion for her players and her sport, she would be undefeated!

I hate to keep hearing rumors that this might be Coach Dave Shoji’s last year as Wahine volleyball coach. Can’t he just keep on coaching forever?

It’s going to be tough to dethrone Punahou as the kings of Hawaii high school football this year. Its new quarterback, junior Ephraim Tuliloa, looks like the real deal — he tossed six touchdowns and passed for more than 400 yards in his debut. His favorite targets are Kanawai Noa, Micah Ma’a (the son of volleyball standouts Pono Ma’a and Lisa Strand Ma’a), and a wide receiver with the best football name around, Heisman Hosoda.

The PacWest sports season gets underway next week with conference play in women’s volleyball. BYU-Hawaii won the conference title last year and went all the way to the NCAA championship finals before finishing as national runners-up. All-American Stella Chen returns for her senior season and is listed as the conference pre-season Player of the Year after winning the award the past two years.

The Seasiders have a strong opening challenge as they host the Chaminade Silverswords Thursday, Sept. 18, in Laie, then travel to take on Hawaii Pacific Sept. 20. HPU will be especially excited, as this will be its first home conference contest in volleyball since the school unveiled its new nickname, the Sharks. The HPU Sharks men’s and women’s soccer teams show off the new logo this weekend. The Sharks play at home Saturday, the 13th, hosting UH-Hilo in the beautiful bowl setting at Atherton Field in Kaneohe.

Finally, a big mahalo to Chaminade’s president, Brother Bernie Ploeger, chairman of the PacWest Presidents this year. We are looking forward to his leadership as we build on our legacy as the largest — and soon to be strongest — DII conference in the West. Now that’s what I call a great present!