A lot has happened this year and 2016 has been labeled negatively almost universally, but every year has its ups and downs. Time is a human construct, so flipping the calendar doesn’t have any magical powers, though it does provide an excuse to reflect. Here are just a few of the standout dates from 2016, as they relate to our little piece of the globe.
March 18 — Hawaii 77, California 66
For the first time in program history, the Hawaii men’s basketball team earned a win in the NCAA Tournament. As a 13-seed taking on fourth-seeded Cal, the Rainbow Warriors made all the big plays down the stretch to pull off the upset win.
Stefan Jankovic, Roderick Bobbitt, Aaron Valdes and the rest of the crew made this team a blast to watch on a nightly basis. Rookie head coach Eran Ganot couldn’t have asked for a better moment to illuminate the school’s best team of all time, which finished 28-6.
Hawaii would fall to Maryland two days later, but it was a magical season that may not be replicated for some time.
July 31 — Tati, Malia battle for US Open title
The very peak of competitive surfing was climbed by a pair of Kauai wahine this summer, as Tatiana Weston-Webb and Malia Manuel faced off in the US Open of Surfing final. Neither Tati, nor Malia had ever reached a Championship Tour final heat, so to do so against one another was both monumental and a stroke of bad luck.
While Andy Irons has achieved the most individual success of any Kauai surfer, male or female, this heat on this day could be considered the most impressive yet for the Garden Isle. Having the world’s best narrowed to just a pair from this small island is a bit like a fairy tale that we were able to watch play out in three dimensions (two, if you were watching online).
November 8 — Trump 306, Clinton 232
There wasn’t a ton of media coverage, so I’m not sure if you heard about this or not. But yes, it actually happened.
December 12 — Dave Shoji takes leave from UH volleyball
There isn’t a more successful or revered coach in University of Hawaii history than Dave Shoji. For more than four decades, he has led the wahine volleyball team to continued and consistent prominence on a national level. As one of only two coaches to reach 1,200 career victories, Shoji has provided and delivered upon expectations year in and year out.
It had been a remarkable 2016 for the coach, having reached that 1,200-win mark and seeing his two sons make the 12-member squad for the US Olympic volleyball team. But on Dec. 12, Shoji announced that he would be taking a leave of absence to seek treatment for prostate cancer.
I know I’m not alone in saying that I wish Coach Shoji the best in his recovery and I can’t wait to see him back on the sideline for the Rainbow Wahine.
December 24 — Hawaii 52, Middle Tennessee 35
Just a few days ago, I wrote about how the bowl season is really difficult to define in terms of importance. But there is something to be said for the Rainbow Warriors finishing head coach Nick Rolovich’s first season with a 7-7 record.
Hawaii hasn’t won as many as seven games since 2010 and only won eight total in Norm Chow’s final three seasons.
Rolovich made some bold decisions in 2016 — including that fake punt in the third quarter! — and had a difficult non-conference start, but that adversity seems to have driven home a belief within the locker room. Unlike the men’s basketball season, this success should carry over to 2017.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.