TOMORROW at 2 p.m., at the University of Hawaii practice field in Manoa Valley, two flag football teams will meet for their 20th annual clash. It's an intense pigskin rivalry that dates back to September 1978, when third-year students Diane Ho and Riki Amano (now a Big Island judge) were sitting in the UH Law School library, wondering how to break the monotony of the Paper Chase.
Football grudge match
at UH Law School
Thus was born the Ete Bowl, a Honolulu sporting event that pits the "Etes," made up of current UH female law students, against the "Bruzers," an intimidating alumnae team made up of established women attorneys and judges.
It's not just a rowdy, fun athletic competition. More important, the game provides an opportunity to promote camaraderie among Law School students and grads, a chance for busy classmates to pause and take time to socialize, and an excuse to network like crazy.
Men -- both law students and practicing barristers -- get into the act, too, by serving as coaches and, er, um, reigning over festivities as Ete "queens." Hey, somebody's got to wear the dress.
Meanwhile, the players are intent on one thing: winning the coveted perpetual trophy.
Historically, the Bruzers are usually the victors, admits third-year student Catherine Awakuni, who plays tight end.
"The Etes haven't won in three years, so we would love a win," she says. "But the Bruzers are like an all-star team. The core has been playing since its inception. They are the best of the best."
Maybe so. But unbeknowst to the Etes, they have a secret advantage: They are taking this game seriously.
Every week since September, two dozen Etes have been practicing diligently at Kapiolani Park, with two-hour training sessions that include stretching, flag-pulling drills and the basics of football. Twenty coaches have been teaching fundamentals to these women, some of whom have never played a team sport before.
Meanwhile, one Bruzer confesses, the alumnae team spends one-third of its practice time "talking story."
Also a scouting report says that Ete Bowl co-founder Diane Ho, now a Maui attorney, may not participate for the first time in two decades after surgery for a detached retina (not an Ete Bowl injury, she emphasizes).
Nor will devoted player Sabrina McKenna, a Circuit Court judge who happens to be pregnant. Five other Bruzers are also hapai.
Also, Etes, here's yet another big tip: A particularly well-known and adept alum player will probably not suit up on Saturday because of a conflict with one of her kids' soccer games. (OK, OK, it's Marilyn Moniz-Kahoohanohano of the UH Athletics Department.)
Hmm, what's that unusual aroma in the air? Does anybody else smell an upset in the making?
NO way, say the Bruzers, who will be led by quarterback Jill Nunokawa, the civil-rights counselor at UH; defensive team captain Emma Matsunaga of the Kessner Duca law firm; and coach Jim Williston, supervising attorney at the Office of Council Services at Honolulu Hale.
What exactly does "Ete" mean, anyway? Williston explains that it is Hawaiian slang synonymous with "tita."
Ete, tita, wahine, whatever. They're taking to the field tomorrow afternoon.
Hey, somebody's got to play football.