An Honest
Day’s Word

By Joe Edwards

Wednesday, September 10, 1997


Can indoor football
really fly in Hawaii?

IT'S not the NFL, but football fans might be pleasantly surprised at the fun they'll find if indoor football becomes a reality in Honolulu.

Plans are under way for a Hawaii franchise to play in the Professional Indoor Football League, commissioner Dick Suess said this week.

Suess said he has secured a local investor to buy the franchise, but that investor must be approved by the league at a meeting in Las Vegas in two weeks before he makes the name public. He did say, however, "I have the check in my pocket," so that's a positive sign.

Father John Frederick, who is serving as general manager of the team and who also runs a local semipro league here, said the team will play its games at Blaisdell Arena. Frederick said the league hopes to put on two exhibition games, one in December and one in January, before the regular season kicks off the third week in April.

"The fans who follow (the indoor game) love it," Frederick said yesterday. "It's fast, 80 to 85 percent passing, it's high-scoring, they've got music playing all the time."

Indeed. I've watched a few Arena Football League games and it's a wild ride. As Suess told the Honolulu Quarterback Club, "You might not want to get up and get a beer because you might miss a couple touchdowns."

Suess explained that the new league plans to operate in 10 to 12 markets that are not on the major-league level. He cited Tucson and Salt Lake City as examples. There also are plans to operate a division in Europe.

Teams will have rosters of 30 players, 22 of whom will be eligible for each of the 14 regular-season games, Frederick said. Players will be paid $200 a game, with bonuses that could double the amount should ticket sales incentives be met. Clearly, this is a part-time job.

Frederick stressed that all of the players will be from Hawaii. That talent pool would include former college players who have moved back to Hawaii or who played for the Rainbows, guys who were quality high school players, but who for various reasons never got a shot at college ball, and perhaps some of the semipro players currently putting on the pads for free.

The limited roster helps keep costs down, Frederick said. "That's only a few more than a basketball team," he said. That should particularly help control travel costs for the seven road games.

Suess said the team must draw 4,000 fans a game at about $10 to $12 a ticket to break even. Blaisdell holds more than 5,000 in a football set-up, Frederick said.

Can Hawaii support such a franchise? My guess is that it's a long shot, but if 5,000 people show up for Dennis Alexio's kickboxing bouts, then this venture ought to at least have a fighting chance.

Teacher of the Year finalist

Retired Aina Haina Elementary school teacher Valerie Carvalho is one of 10 finalists for the NFL's Teacher of the Year Award.

Carvalho was among more than 300 teachers nominated by NFL players. She was the third-grade teacher of Leo Goeas, who played for the University of Hawaii and is an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens.

The league will award grants of $5,000 to the winning teacher and $10,000 to the school at the Pro Bowl in February. Four additional teachers of the month and their schools will receive grants of $2,500 and $5,000, respectively.

"What Leo really enjoyed," Carvalho said, "were all the extra-curricular activities . . . track meets, Christmas productions, May Day productions."

Carvalho said that even during his college years Goeas would visit the school and bring back memories of the songs they sang in a particular program or an activity they did as a class.

"I'd say, 'Oh, my god, Leo, you remember that?' And he'd say, 'Of course, I remember.' "

Carvalho taught at Aina Haina for 31 years before retiring in 1995. She has been a substitute teacher since then. Nicely done.



Joe Edwards is sports editor of the Star-Bulletin.




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