It started as another thought scribbled in coach Nick Rolovich’s book of ideas.
April Fool’s Day prank? How about a wet-and-wild one?
Rolovich concocted an elaborate water-balloon fight between the coaching staff and players. The key was the element of surprise.
“It took a lot of planning,” said Rolovich, who summoned the coaches, graduate assistants, interns, video staff and facility managers to a 10 a.m. meeting on April 1. Defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa was absent — he was being interviewed for the “Leahey and Leahey” television show — thus making him an involuntary diversion in the scheme.
At 4 p.m., Lempa was summoned to human resource specialist Paula Nishimoto’s office to fill out what Rolovich termed “fake papers.”
At the start of the 4:30 p.m. team meeting in the athletic complex auditorium, Rolovich handed a note to right tackle RJ Hollis to be read aloud to the rest of the players. It was a notification of the water-balloon battle on the grass practice field.
“At 4:35,” Rolovich recalled, “the coaches declared war on the players.”
As the players raced toward the gate of the field, they saw trash containers filled with water, water balloons and Super Soakers.
The event was captured on video. The five-member football video crew had cameras set up on platforms, including the so-called crow’s nest, and on the field. They also used Go Pros to shoot video from golf carts. Equipment worker Patricia Welton and Briana Stutzmann (assistant coach Craig Stutzmann’s wife) shot video with their cell phones.
A memorable shot was Lempa, who was notified shortly before the event, looking in awe as he was being driven toward the battleground.
“This was a team effort,” video coordinator Dory Kong said of her staff. Kong edited the video, Olivia Vea coordinated the logistics, and each of the video crew was involved in the process.
Rolovich paid for the 900 balloons, but it was the graduate assistants who had to fill them with water.
“It’s in their job description,” Rolovich said.
Here’s the video: April Fool’s Day Massacre