Jannah Theme License is not validated, Go to the theme options page to validate the license, You need a single license for each domain name.

In the wake of the Maui wildfires, Hawaiian football represents the resilience of all the islands

In the middle of the night on Monday August 7, Hawaiian soccer coach Timmy Chang woke up to loud noises. His wife, Sherry, was already awake and asked, “Do you hear the wind? Chang didn’t know it at the time, but a high pressure system north of Hawaii and Category 4 Hurricane Dora – about 800 miles to the south – brought unusually strong winds across the islands.

“It felt like it was hitting home,” Chang said. “It was really, really strong. The first thing I thought was, ‘Wow, tomorrow it’s going to be interesting trying to throw the ball in that wind.'”

The next day started like any other Tuesday at training camp. Hawai’i finished his morning training and around 4 p.m. he was starting pre-dinner meetings and evening tours. It was around this time that word began circulating around the team’s facility in Manoa, Oahu that wildfires had broken out in Maui, about 80 miles away.

Chang’s first thought was the wind. Wildfires are common in Hawaii – especially at this time of year – but high winds meant the fire would spread quickly.

It was the precursor to the deadliest American wildfire in over 100 years.

By 6 p.m., reports of havoc were almost incomprehensible.

“That’s when we heard, ‘Front Street doesn’t exist,'” Chang said, referring to the main road that runs through historic and bustling downtown Lahaina Town. “Then you start hearing reports of people jumping into the ocean for their lives, to escape the fire.”

In the three weeks since, the death toll has risen to 115, with a list of missing persons representing more than double that figure. The city remained in ruins. About half of Lahaina’s 12,000 residents have been displaced, according to Hawaii Governor Josh Green. There is no estimate of how long it will take to rebuild.

When Hawai’i takes the field on Friday for its home opener against Stanford (11 p.m. ET on CBSSN), it will be with a heavy heart: a moment of silence will be observed before kickoff. There’s always a sense of state pride that comes with playing for the Rainbow Warriors, but in the aftermath of the fires, there’s an added sense of responsibility to represent resilience.

Wide receiver Karsyn Pupunu was born and raised in Lahaina and, along with defensive back Kimo Holo Holt-Mossman, is one of two Maui natives on the team. They shared updates throughout the day the fires broke out but as the blaze grew in intensity cell service died out west of Maui and the updates became rare.

The next day, Pupunu received heartbreaking news: an aunt, uncle and two of his cousins ​​were among those who died in the fire.

“It really ruined me,” Pupunu told ESPN. “That’s when I decided it was time to come home for a bit.”

His family home, a few miles from Kahana, was spared, but it didn’t bring him much consolation.

“He needed to be there with his family members and join the effort to help and see for himself what is happening,” Chang said. “Then come back when he’s ready – and that’s what happened.”

Holt-Mossman is originally from east Maui, Kula, about a 45-minute drive from Lahaina, but several members of his family, including his elderly grandmother, were forced to evacuate because of fires that broke out in different parts of the island.

Despite the uncertainty of it all, Pupunu and Holt-Mossman said they have received incredible support from teammates, coaches and those around the program, but the broader response efforts have also faltered. brands.

“The support has been huge,” Pupunu said. “Not only the people of Hawaii, but even the people of the mainland. Everyone showed their love, support and care throughout this time and made sure everything was okay. Whether it was us, our family members, or even people in Lahaina that they might not even know, but are still trying to support.”

Stanford will wear Maui stickers on its helmets for Friday’s game. Vanderbilt, Hawaii’s opponent last week in their season opener, announced that a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales for the game will be donated to the Hawaii Community Foundation and the Maui Strong Fund. . UCLA announced last week that it will be giving away free football tickets to games against Coastal Carolina and North Carolina Central to anyone who donates at least $10 to one of four charitable funds supporting the efforts of rescue. Two men’s college basketball exhibition games — Tennessee at Michigan State and Saint Mary’s at Hawai’i — are also scheduled for October to raise funds.

The response from the Hawaiian soccer program was almost immediate.

Within 48 hours, he launched a relief campaign on Maui and collected non-perishable goods for a previously scheduled fan festival event. During the season, coaches and players are somewhat limited in how they can help, but Chang said when the season is over, they plan to be on Maui to help in any way they can.

“We’ll be in Maui, on the ground, trying to figure out how we can help,” he said. “And if it’s just about playing football with the kids, then we will. But my team and I will be there and if we can bring players, we will bring players.

“We want to help. And whether it’s with a shovel to help with reconstruction or with football, we’ll be there.”

Chang even ruled out the possibility of the Rainbow Warriors returning to Maui at some point to play a home game for the first time since 2001, when he led Hawai’i to a win over Montana in front of 12,863 fans at War. Memorial Stadium. The stadium, which is expected to be closed from May 2024 to May 2025 due to major renovations, will seat around 15,000 people when it reopens.

“I would love to do it again,” Chang said. “I played two games there. I also played the Hula Bowl. Both games were sold out. It was an amazing environment. I know we talked about trying to get back there.”

Since Chang was hired in January 2022, he has made concerted efforts to engage with the local community. It starts in Oahu but extends to all eight islands – in May the program sent coaches to Maui for a youth clinic – and the former star quarterback regularly reminds his team that without a professional team in Hawai’i, it is their job to represent the state.

Perhaps never truer than tonight against Stanford.

“This game means a lot to us. It means a lot to Maui,” Holt-Mossman said. “[Chang] preaches that now we are playing for something much bigger right now because of the natural disaster in Maui. I feel like this home opener means a lot to Hawaii State with everything we’re going through. It’s going to be big.”


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.

Back to top button