Remembering Molokai volleyball tragedy victims


POSTED: Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It was 20 years ago today when a small plane flying from Maui to Molokai crashed, killing all 20 aboard. Eight Molokai High School volleyball players and two faculty members were among them.

Today, the Farmers come to Oahu for the state volleyball tournament as the No. 2 seed in the Division II tournament. Coach Matt Helm lost his sister, Natalie, in that accident.

There was a small, quiet dedication at MHS yesterday recognizing the tragedy.

“;A beautiful headstone in memory of Flight 1712 was unveiled,”; said Molokai resident Ron Kimball, who attended the ceremony.

Some of the Farmers who died in 1989 might have become coaches. Some might have had daughters on the Molokai roster this week.

The players were returning home after having won a match to qualify for the state tournament.

“;Every year before the start of volleyball season, the coaches talk about the accident and the students that lost their lives, and they also go visit the grave sites of the former players,”; Kimball wrote me in an e-mail. “;It was a beautiful, yet very sad dedication (at the school yesterday).”;

Molokai plays the winner of tonight's Honokaa-University match tomorrow at 5 p.m. at Kalani.

» Baseball in November? Ridiculous.

Let's keep the three-layer postseason series system. That means some games need to be lopped off the regular-season schedule. Knock it down to 150 and we won't have to worry about playing the Fall Classic in snowfall.

I used to be a purist who would never consider anything but the beautifully symmetric 162-game slate. But that was back when there were 12 teams in each league and it worked out perfectly with 18 games against divisional foes and 12 against those in the other.

That's all gone, with more teams, interleague play and the unbalanced schedule. And the record book's a mess due to inflated numbers caused by performance-enhancing drugs.

» Mark McGwire as a major league hitting coach? You've got to be kidding me. He had 1,596 strikeouts in 6,187 at-bats.

Oh ... and that other thing, too. He's one of the reasons the records don't mean anything anymore.

» Expectations.

That's the word I kept thinking about yesterday in conjunction with Hawaii football coach Greg McMackin and the increasing outcry over the Warriors' five consecutive losses. What, exactly, are the expectations for University of Hawaii football and, specifically, its head coach?

While McMackin's very generous compensation is spelled out very specifically in his contract, performance expectations are in vague terms (such as, “;Coach will provide leadership in building and maintaining a competitive, quality program ...”;) That is, except for incentives adding up to a possible $150,000 in bonuses.

As you might guess, it is extremely unlikely any of these will be met this season.

» I know Marv Albert was a bad boy back in the 1990s, but that doesn't mean I can't love his velvet-smooth voice and signature calls.

YES! Re-JECTED! Pippen goes GLASS!

Whenever I hear Albert, Brent Musburger or Vin Scully, I'm transported back to my childhood and teens in the 1970s when sports were all about fun for me — playing them, going to high school, college and pro games, or staying up late to watch on TV. And, of course, arguing with friends about our favorite teams and players.

I don't remember us ever worrying about if coaches should be fired or steroids or how much players got paid.

I miss those days.


Reach Star-Bulletin sports columnist Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), his “;Quick Reads”; blog at starbulletin.com, and twitter.com/davereardon.