Proud to be Hawaii

January, 2008

I cannot believe what a small world we live in. Come to find out that, back in the day, our assistant editor, Jason Ubay, used to play football with our cover subject, University of Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California. Jason was a center, so he would snap the football to Brennan, then the backup quarterback, and to Matt Leinart, the starting quarterback.

According to Jason, even then, Leinart, who would go on to win the Heisman Trophy as a USC Trojan in 2004, showed flashes of greatness. Brennan, on the other hand, seemed pretty ordinary to Jason. “I didn’t think he would be at this level of competition or breaking all these records,” he admits.

This small anecdote is heartening to me. Brennan’s going from backup quarterback to outsized state hero is a symbolic breakthrough. The late Gov. John A. Burns is known for speaking out about Hawaii’s “subtle inferiority of spirit.” We’ve seen this inferiority of spirit manifest itself in insidious ways, through perennial and worsening housing, education and transportation problems.

Many times, this subtle inferiority of spirit hangs over our community because the good news doesn’t get out and because we don’t notice and develop the potential in those who are before us, or we simply just don’t believe enough. There are smart students and terrific things happening in Hawaii’s schools, but we don’t hear of them. Case in point, how many of you knew that a team from Moanalua Middle School, coached by an employee of the local technology company Oceanit, won a Universal Design Award at the First LEGO League’s Nanotechnology World Festival in Atlanta, Georgia last year?

Those middle school students and Colt Brennan and his fellow Warriors proved that Hawaii can compete and win on a national level. They’ve helped us break through the subtle inferiority cloud. In the case of Brennan and co., the entire state is basking in the glow of their incredible accomplishments.

Our cover story explains why the good news doesn’t stop there. The University of Hawaii’s undefeated WAC season and BCS bowl game premier means much more than short-term good feelings and bragging rights. David K. Choo found out about the “Flutie Effect” from folks at Boston College and Boise State University. Apparently the entire University of Hawaii – not just its athletic department – is in for quite a ride. The hope is that the school and the state are poised to capitalize on the expected rise in visibility, applications and alumni giving. We’ve had a breakthrough, now let’s keep the momentum up. Go Warriors and Go Hawaii!

Kelli Abe Trifonovitch

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Kelli Abe Trifonovitch