It’s a celebration

Members of the men's basketball team posed with Manoa chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman outside the Governor's Office.
Members of the men’s basketball team posed with Manoa chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman outside the Governor’s Office.

When it comes to being paid tribute, not a whole lot will top Monday for Hawaii’s basketball teams.

First, there was the rally at Manoa campus center for the Big West champions and NCAA Tournament participants, attended by a couple hundred diehards (not many students among them). Manoa chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman, athletic director David Matlin, Rep. K. Mark Takai and coaches Eran Ganot and Laura Beeman spoke to the crowd, while the UH pep band and cheerleaders kept things lively.

Then there were the proclamations at the State Capitol by Gov. David Ige, Sen. Mazie Hirono and other legislators. Matlin, Ganot and Beeman spoke again.

Ige declared March 28 (Monday) both Rainbow Wahine Basketball Day and Rainbow Warrior Basketball Day after presenting each team with plaques.

“It just kind of shows you what a great year we had,” Stefan Jankovic said. “Being in the Governor’s office, being next to him, listening to him, telling our accolades, it was nice. We’ve obviously reflected on the season.”

(You’re welcome to remark on the lack of additional funding flowing UH’s way from the Capitol down at the bottom.)

Nearly all the players for both teams were present at one or both of the events; some were still coming off spring break. Roderick Bobbitt and Aaron Valdes were missing for the men, while Ashleigh Karaitiana and Kalei Adolpho were out for the women.

“It’s really special,” Beeman said of the day. “I think that maybe it shows we’re at a turning point of athletics, where people understand the importance, not just in the wins column, but what the student-athletes do for the community.”

Said Ganot: “You have confidence that something like this could happen. But it’s nice to see it happen, and nice to see the people come together for it.”

I checked with all four members of the Rainbow Warriors’ junior class (or their camps) today, and none were ready to make a pronouncement whether they’ll be staying or going. However, of the four, Mike Thomas sounds the closest to making the call.

Our Kimberly Yuen did a Facebook live stream of the campus center rally, which you can view here.

LIVE from UH Manoa's Campus Center: a rally to celebrate Rainbow Warriors and Rainbow Wahine basketball teams

Posted by Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Monday, March 28, 2016

Here’s some more shots/clips from the day.

Sai Tummala and Stefan Jankovic posed with athletic trainer Jay Goo at the State Capitol fifth floor.
Sai Tummala and Stefan Jankovic posed with athletic trainer Jay Goo at the State Capitol fifth floor.

More on the dual celebrations in Tuesday’s print edition.


  1. rabbit ears March 29, 2016 3:22 am

    wondering were roderick was. didn’t notice that Aaron was missing too.

  2. blunite March 29, 2016 9:48 am

    Admittedly, the basketball teams deserved the State Capital honorariums for making the NCAAs; but what does this say about Wahine Volleyball where making the NCAAs every year is a tradition? Does the governor hold the WVB team to a higher standard? (Like maybe a national championship?)

  3. tongo March 29, 2016 12:40 pm

    The hardest step in virtually anything worth while doing is getting started – and both the women and the men teams are doing it, creating a winning culture and tradition within each team. Congrats to both these truly outstanding head coaches and their respective staffs and players. You showed the entire state that the virtual impossible and the highly improbable can be achieved. The individual stories about each team and how they overcame their challenges are truly inspirational for our kids. Hopefully, the Governor will support UH athletics with much needed funds. When UH wins, the entire state is filled with energy, excitement, and pride.

  4. Na Alii Pride March 29, 2016 3:14 pm

    The governor and the rest at the Capitol make me sick. No support for additional funding for athletics but uses the success of the basketball teams for free campaign publicity and photo ops. They obviously know that success of athletics has broad appeal, and they took full advantage. All of a sudden, UH sports is important. How convenient in an election year.

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