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Star-Bulletin Sports

Saturday, February 17, 2001

Humility comes
full circle for
Circle of Honor

Sapolu, Botelho, Kaapuni
all focus on others at luncheon

By Cindy Luis

They span some 30 years of University of Hawaii athletics. But the three who comprise the UH Sports Circle of Honolulu Class of 2000 share more than having once worn green and white.

Former football players Don "Spud" Botelho and Jesse Sapolu, and volleyball player Joyce Kapuaala Kaapuni all share a character trait that transcends the greatness they achieved in their respective sports: humility.

In being recognized at a luncheon yesterday, the three did not dwell on their accomplishments. They chose instead to thank their coaches and teammates for helping them succeed in sports and in life.

"It is a humbling moment,'' said Botelho, the long-time coach and athletic director at Mid-Pacific Institute. "A lot of people helped me become what I am, and I'm here today because of them and their sacrifices.''

Sapolu recalled how his high school coaches at Farrington helped turn around his life so he could go on to attain All-Western Athletic Conference honors as a Rainbow.

"Coaches underplay the effect they have on their athletes' lives,'' said Sapolu, who was on four Super Bowl championship teams during a 15-year career with the San Francisco 49ers. "It is amazing the impact they have on lives.

"When you look at the qualifications for this award, it means that you did something to influence people's lives, not that you were just good in athletics. That means more than all the other accolades I've received while playing.''

This will be the second time that Kaapuni will have a plaque with her name hung on the inner concourse of the Stan Sheriff Center. She was inducted in 1997 as a member of the Wahine teams that won back-to-back NCAA championships in 1982-83.

"I enjoyed being inducted with my teammates,'' said Kaapuni, who was also a setter for Hawaii in 1974 and 1976. "But to be recognized individually is a very special honor. I'm only sorry my biggest fan -- my mother -- wasn't here to share this.''

Margaret Kapuaala passed away in 1998.

The three will officially be inducted tonight during halftime of the Hawaii-Rice men's basketball game. The Circle of Honor now includes 57 individuals and five UH teams.

The Class of 2000's achievements:

Bullet Botelho played for the Rainbows from 1954-57 as a quarterback, running back punter and place-kicker. He was a member of the UH team that upset host Nebraska, 6-0, after coming into the game as a 50-point underdog.

Bullet Kaapuni was on the first intercollegiate volleyball team in 1974 and earned AIAW All-American honors in 1976. After a six-year break, she returned to school to help Hawaii to a 67-3 record and two NCAA titles, again earning All-American honors.

Bullet Sapolu was a three-time all-WAC lineman and MVP for the Rainbows in 1982. He went on to a pro career that included three Pro Bowl selections.

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