Kalani Simpson


By Kalani Simpson

Friday, June 22, 2001

Oh Brother! O’Donnell
makes Damien a winner

We saw it right here in this newspaper, not more than a couple of months ago. Charlie Brown's team had finally won a baseball game. Finally, after years of struggle and strife, the little round-headed kid could call himself a winner. But then he got a call to come into the league commissioner's office. He wonders why.

The league commissioner informs him that a group of parents have gotten together.

And Chuck's second baseman, Linus, leans over and says, "In all the world, Charlie Brown, there is nothing quite as scary as a group of parents getting together."

I wish I had cut it out, as I had intended to when I read it. It is one of the great quotations of all time. It is funny. It is true.

And Damien Memorial High School president Brother Gregory O'Donnell is finding that out quickly.

If he thinks he's felt turbulence before, he'd better brace himself. The captain has turned on the fasten seatbelt sign. Please return your seats and tray tables to their fully upright and locked position.

The man has headaches. Some even want him fired. Over a football game.

But here's hoping that Brother O'Donnell stays strong.

Not because the parents are wrong. But because Linus is right. There is nothing scarier in the world than a group of parents getting together. And these days sometimes it seems like a lot of decisions involving schools and kids get made or unmade because somebody's mother makes some noise.

And mothers, when they want to, can make big, scary noises.

The fallout from O'Donnell's decision was no surprise. It was predictable. And emotional.

Let the boys play!

We're not quitters!

You can do it!

A letter to the editor yesterday said that Damien shouldn't forfeit to St. Louis because it has the grit and determination to win. It went on to say Damien's problem is coaching. I don't know Damien's coach. Have never met him. Never seen the boys play. But I know one thing: 84-0 isn't bad coaching. Let's not kid ourselves.

The letter also mentioned that Kahuku showed what happens when you don't quit. (Yes, when you don't quit and you have four Division I players and a front line that averages close to 300 pounds.)

The parents do have a point, and I agree with it. You want to go down fighting. Never surrender. Forfeiting leaves a bad taste in the mouth and a knot in the gut. Should they forfeit? No, we all wish it hadn't come to that.

But schools can't flip and flop on emotion. Somebody has to act and be accountable.

Damien's motto,Viriliter Age, "Act manfully" doesn't mean standing up and taking your lickings from a bunch of guys bound for the Pac 10. That's going along with the flow. That's the easier thing to do.

Instead, we saw the fruits of O'Donnell's stand as a headline in yesterday's paper: "Forfeits prompt changes in ILH."

This is a good thing. Damien's sacrifice brings about a long overdue and good thing. The right thing.

But, to some, the unpopular thing. O'Donnell's decision was in the face of the scariest thing in all the world -- a group of parents getting together. Now that's acting manfully.

Kalani Simpson's column runs Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
He can be reached at

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