Hawaii football emphasizing unity, togetherness

Spring workouts conclude Friday for the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors and it seems to be a love fest under new head coach Nick Rolovich. The UH athletic department put out a release with statements from a collection of players and everyone was bringing up the same points, all emphasizing togetherness and camaraderie.

“From the energy to the brotherhood, I feel like we’re so much closer as a family; we all care for each other a lot more,” said Makoa Camanse-Stevens.

“I feel like the team’s gotten a little closer with a sense of caring about each other more,” said Ammon Barker. “Originally when we had the new coaching staff, a lot of people didn’t know which direction we were going to go, but all that’s happened since coach Rolo and the staff have gotten here has just gone up from there.”

“There’s a lot less separation in the locker room or bickering about little stuff,” said Marcus Kemp.

“The camaraderie and the team aspect overall, every guy is going out there for each other,” said Leo Koloamatangi. “I think everyone can say that we feel that way more than we did last fall.”

“We’re becoming a lot closer, becoming like a true family,” said Ikaika Woolsey. “I feel like when Rolo came here, he made that one of the staples, made that one of the most important things, that in order for us to be good, we have to actually care about each other, love each other, on and off the field. Everything starts with love in a family. We’ve become a lot closer and that starts with Rolo, from the top down.”

That’s a pretty consistent message. It sure sounds like there’s a growing sense of unity within the ‘Bows locker room.

But it also makes you wonder what the state of the relationships among players was like towards the end of Norm Chow’s tenure. Losing is bound to make any locker room a bit tense, but this isn’t just players applauding their current sense of brotherhood. To a man, almost all the quotes are comparing this spring to last fall. It seems there was a much larger sense of separation and division than we were privy to.

While the players always spoke reverently about Coach Chow and the community appreciated everything he went through during his time at UH, it now seems like the players were focusing their frustration on one another. It does provide some greater perspective on last season.

Not all bad teams experience chemistry issues. Some very tight-knit teams can go through tough seasons.

But it’s virtually impossible for a very good team to have bad chemistry. If Coach Rolovich has the team off that track, then that’s a good start — especially after how camp began with the indefinite suspensions of Kennedy Tulimasealii and Kaau Gifford. Each player has since been charged for their roles stemming from Tulimasealii’s alleged domestic abuse incident.

But it seems the Rainbow Warriors are moving forward as one unit and have prioritized togetherness. It’s good to see that not only are they using the buzzwords, but they’ve identified what had been wrong. Spring camp may have been somewhat marred by off-the-field issues but it doesn’t seem to have broken the resolve of this Warrior club.

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David Simon can be reached at dsimon@thegardenisland.com.

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