Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, June 21, 2001



Baseball boosters
not bowing out yet

By Al Chase

Hui Kokua Kini Popo, the University of Hawaii Rainbow baseball booster club, will continue to operate at least through the 2002 season.

The club's board of directors decided recently they wanted to show support for new head coach Mike Trapasso. At the same time, they feel it is time for a new organization with new leaders to come aboard with the energy to attract a larger membership to back future Rainbow teams.

"We're going to give the new coach all the support we can," said Hui Kokua Kini Popo president Richard Sato.

"Hopefully we can get a new crew in. We want to see the program go to the next level, so this would be a good time for a nice transition."

The booster club has operated for over 25 years providing funds to help take care of the baseball program's needs. Most of the early members were close friends of retired UH head coach Les Murakami.

The driving force in the early days was the late Charles Ushijima, who pushed for the building of Rainbow Stadium during his days as a legislator.

"He could get things done. He had a network," said Sato.

The club provided the funds for the covered batting cage and helped outfit the weight room and the players lounge so they would have a place to study long before there was an academic center in the Stan Sheriff Center. Over the years a number of small improvements were funded by the club. The postgame meal was the booster club's responsibility.

In recent years, membership has declined. Sato says many of the boosters are tired. Murakami, when announcing his retirement in May of 2000 said his longtime boosters needed a break.

"We want to keep supporting Les. We want to save some energy for that," Sato said. "Whatever he chooses to do, it will be something to give back to the community."

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