Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, July 26, 1999


UH-Hilo looks to
Oahu for support

By Al Chase


The Hawaii-Hilo athletic department wants to expand its presence and exposure on Oahu in an effort to increase support from the most populated island.

One goal is to better disseminate to potential student/athletes the advantages of attending college on the Big Island.

With the continued decrease in state general funds available to run the program, UHH athletic director Bill Trumbo has to look elsewhere for the dollars. He wants to establish a base on Oahu for fund-raising, corporate sponsor involvement and governmental lobbying efforts.

Trumbo and head baseball coach Joey Estrella began a three-day blitz last night at a gathering to form an Oahu chapter of the Vulcan Booster Club. They have radio and television appearances scheduled and Trumbo will speak at today's Honolulu Quarterback Club meeting.

The UHH athletic department sponsored 93 events last year that Trumbo estimates brought $6 million into the state.

"We already have a request for 500 tickets from Cincinnati when they come to the Big Island Invitational basketball tournament this year," Trumbo said.

"We also think there is a residual effect from visiting players who return later in life or tell other people about the good time they had on the Big Island."

"We want to make the whole experience for visiting teams good," said Estrella.

His team enters the Western Athletic Conference next spring, There is concern about what will happen to UHH's affiliate membership when Nevada joins the WAC in 2000-2001.

Estrella's goal is to make sure the visiting WAC coaches and players think it's worth having two conference teams in the 50th state.

"We want to be a good, competitive team. We understand the need to win. There is pressure to be successful, but it motivates you.

"I think we had a good, not great, recruiting year. We filled some needs. We'll develop the UH-Hilo program into a prominent player in the Western Athletic Conference.

"Being able to play for a conference title is an opportunity for us. We've noticed an increase in interest from potential players. It's a lot more work then in the past, but it's exciting."

One definite benefit of WAC membership is the Vulcans' schedule is of the weekend variety, much like the Hawaii Rainbows.

No more playing 13 games in 11 days, taking a day off, then playing five more.

"No team has the pitching to do that," Estrella said.

UHH will play at Francis Wong Stadium in Hilo and, in many cases, the final game of a series will be at Simmons Field in Kona since direct flights to the mainland are available from Kona.

The Vulcans play Sonoma State, San Diego, San Diego State and Tennessee prior to opening WAC competition at San Jose State on Feb. 26.

The home and away series with the Rainbows are scheduled for the first two weekends of May.

Anyone interested injoining the Vulcan Booster Club can call (808) 974-7520.

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