Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, April 4, 2001


UH Football

Murphy has big plans
for Na Koa football
club to grow

By Paul Arnett

The recent death of Ed Wong left Na Koa looking for a new leader to guide the University of Hawaii football booster club through these troubling times.

Don Murphy was the person the 500-member organization chose to replace Wong as the president. The local restaurant owner, who head coach June Jones considers one of the top supporters of the program, believes the membership is moving in the right direction.

"First of all, I can't fill the shoes of Mr. Wong," Murphy said of the person who convinced Jones to take the UH head coaching job. "I can only try to keep them pointed in the right direction. He did a lot to get the Na Koa Club where it is today."

Former UH head coach Bob Wagner also was instrumental in taking Na Koa to new heights when he decided he would not only speak at the Monday Quarterback Club luncheons, but at the Na Koa Club meetings as well.

Local sports columnists denounced Wagner's decision of nearly a decade ago. Still, Jones made a similar choice after being named the head coach in December 1998. He splits his time between the two organizations.

Both do a lot behind the scenes to support the football program, but Murphy believes it's important for Na Koa's membership to not only grow, but take a more active role in a football program still caught in transition.

"I'm excited about the possibilities," Murphy said. "I'm hopeful I can help improve the membership and get more people in, and directly involved, with the direction Coach Jones wants to take this program.

"We've got to get more corporate sponsorships and get the people of Hawaii involved. That's where we've really got to go with it, I think. Make it more fun for the people. We'll continue to use the restaurant, but I'm not sure how much more involved we can get because we already do the auction every summer."

Murphy began those fund-raising efforts under former head coach Fred vonAppen. It has grown steadily the past few years, clearing the $100,000 mark last summer. It was a record Murphy hopes to duplicate, or even surpass, this summer. The money is used to help fund the fall training table for the football team.

"What I'd also like to do is hold something that's similar to what we did this past St. Patrick's Day," Murphy said. "We can get the streets and the parking lots closed off, and have a big bash down here to raise some money and help Coach Jones as much as we can.

"My dream here is to try to take the Na Koa Club to new heights. I'm looking at it as a fun thing to do for the football team."

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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