[ 30 YEARS OF PAC-FIVE FOOTBALL ]
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Sports broadcaster John Noland played both ways on the first Pac-Five football team in 1974.
Wolfpack giving back
Past stars are coming together
to help bring Pac-Five players
It's party time for the Pac-Five football program.
Former Wolfpack players and coaches gather Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m. at the Ocean Club for a reunion to celebrate the program's 30th anniversary.
The public is invited, and with a cost of $10 to attend, the Pac-Five Alumni Association will use proceeds to pay for some of the expenses for this year's Wolfpack football team.
"It's something we've talked about for a long time," first-year Pac-Five head coach and former player Kip Botelho said. "All of the guys always talk about getting together and now we're finally going to do it. We're trying to make it a yearly thing and something special. It's a perfect way to keep in touch."
Botelho said some of the money will be used for a training trip to Camp Erdman, video camera equipment, practice equipment and headsets for the coaches.
"It's all stuff we need," he added.
Botelho has seen Pac-Five football -- all the good and the bad -- throughout its 30-year history. He was a ninth-grade JV player during the Wolfpack's first season in 1974, when his father, Don Botelho, started his long career as the team's coach.
Don Botelho also coached an experimental Hummers (a partial anagram for participating schools Hawaii Baptist, University, Mid-Pacific and Maryknoll) football team for a brief period before he started Pac-Five -- with Lutheran added to the mix -- in 1974.
STAR-BULLETIN / 1982
Pac-Five coach Don Botelho and quarterback Tino Sellitto led Pac-Five to the first of two Prep Bowl wins.
Today, Pac-Five draws from many more schools, but gets most of its players from Word of Life and Mid-Pacific. Academy of the Pacific, Lanakila Baptist, Redemption, Hanalani and Assets are among the others the program has drawn from.
One of the reasons Kip Botelho wants the team to attend camp is to bring the players from the many schools closer together.
"One of the rules is you have to room with somebody from a different school," he said. "One of the hardest things in the team's early years was getting the players to feel like a team. Even today, the kids don't really know each other that well. At camp, it's easier for them to become friends. Last year was the first time Pac-Five attended camp in a long, long time and it was a big plus."
John Noland, an Oahu radio and TV sports broadcaster, was a two-way player on the first Pac-Five football team.
"I remember during the summer pass league, Coach (Don) Botelho got a core group of us, about eight to 12 players, in a room to vote on our nickname," Noland said. "There were a bunch of choices, and one of them was Packers, but we chose Wolfpack."
Noland also vividly recalls returning to Oahu from college in 1982 and watching Pac-Five win its first of two Prep Bowls (the de facto state championship). The other title came in 1985.
"We had been a doormat, so it just blew me away," he said.
It was a far cry from the 1974 season, when the Wolfpack didn't win a game.
"It wasn't glamorous," Noland added. "We had about 35 to 40 kids and a lot of guys going both ways. In my senior year in 1975, we went out winners, though. After losing all of our league games, we won our finale against Damien at Iolani. It was very emotional and there was a big fight after the game."
STAR-BULLETIN / 1981
Salevaa Atisanoe, right, and Eddie Hayashi celebrated a touchdown against Saint Louis.
In 1979, Pac-Five began to turn the corner, challenging for the Interscholastic League of Honolulu title, but losing to Kamehameha in the championship game.
The Wolfpack's fortunes fell off in the 1990s, but Kip Botelho is trying to bring the glory back.
The program has had some big-time players throughout the years and many of them are planning to attend the reunion. Joe Onosai, who coached Pac-Five a year ago, was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, but his career was cut short by an injury. Pio Sagapolutele, Ricky Andrews, Ink Aleaga and Leroy Lutu also played in the NFL, while quarterback Garrett Gabriel went on to star at the University of Hawaii. Another player turned out to be a sumo star in Japan -- Salevaa Atisanoe, better known as Konishiki.
Noland credits Don Botelho, who is now the ILH's executive director, with making the difference in the lives of so many Wolfpack players.
"He used to tell us that it's not a sin to get knocked down, but that it's a sin to stay down," Noland said. "He didn't want us to quit, and from what I remember, nobody did. We used to cry when we lost, not so much because we lost, but because we didn't win for Coach Botelho. He had that much of an impact on us. We wanted to win for him."
For more information on the Pac-Five reunion and fundraiser, e-mail Kip Botelho at email@example.com or call him at 223-7101.