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Keeping Score

By Cindy Luis

Wednesday, March 29, 2000

Aloha to a
good guy and friend

THE newsroom's air conditioning has been overly effective lately, causing some of us to bring jackets into work.

My choice has been a down snow jacket picked up during the last Western Athletic Conference Tournament held at The Pit in Albuquerque.

But nothing I wore could protect - or prepare - for the chill when I came to work early Monday morning and saw a news brief we would be running in that day's paper.

It was a short item, but my heart fell into my lap when reading that Mike Sheriff had passed away Sunday night from a heart attack.

The son of Stan Sheriff, the late University of Hawaii athletic director, was only 39. Way too young, especially for someone who enjoyed life as much as Mike did.

So many times, we'd pass each other in the corridors of the Stan Sheriff Center before or after a game. Usually, there'd be time for just a quick hello, a kiss on the cheek or one of his patented bearhugs.

One of the most memorable times, however, came outside of the arena named for his father.

It was at a UH football game last November when Mike was camped out in his usual corner of Aloha Stadium, with his usual beer in hand.

WARRIOR football was back and Sheriff was enjoying every moment of June Jones' Revival Show.

"Dad would have loved this,'' he said.

Then he went out of his way to make sure my nephew knew how special Hawaii - and the University of Hawaii - is to his family.

"You've got to come play if you have the chance,'' he told my nephew, a junior college player who is considering attending UH in another year. "It's only going to get better.''

Mike held court for most of the second half, oblivious to the drizzle and obviously on a first-name basis with nearly everyone who made the trek up to blue Section QQ or to the student-athletes heading down to the orange section.

There was seemingly a kind word or a quick joke for everyone.

On Monday, I recalled a more somber occasion. That of the day when the arena was renamed for Stan Sheriff.

Even then, Mike wore a huge smile. He laughed about how he and brother Rich, the arena manager, nearly fell off the ladder when helping change the letters from "Special Events Arena'' to "Stan Sheriff Center.''

"They almost would have had to rename it the 'Sheriff Memorial Center,' '' he said.

I don't know what is being planned to honor Mike. All I know is Monday, after putting the final edition to bed, I took the long way home, trying to warm up.

THERE were thoughts of stopping by to pay respects to Jane Sheriff, a wonderful woman who has lost two terrific men in just over seven years. But I really didn't know what to say to her.

I still don't.

The drive from Hanauma Bay to Makapuu was soothing. And, as always, so was passing through Waimanalo.

Instead of getting angry at the lost limo driver blocking the road, it was easier to nod back at the horse gazing from behind his fence.

By the time I reached Kailua, I was warm. Both from the sun and memories of Mike Sheriff.

There was no beer in the refrigerator, the beverage I associate most with him.

But there was champagne. I don't think he minded the switch.

To you, Mike. One of the truly good guys.

Dad will be happy.

But we'll miss you.

Cindy Luis is Star-Bulletin sports editor.
Her column appears weekly.

E-mail to Sports Editor

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