Club football is about to become available to college students across Hawaii via a program called Hawaii 8.
The plan, which is being put forth by the nonprofit Hawaii Football Club, is to put five teams on the field for competition next spring and beyond.
The hope is for the five-team conference to eventually become eight, according to HFC executive director Keala Pule.
Some big names from Hawaii high school football — former Kahuku coach Reggie Torres and former Waianae coach Walter Young — have agreed to be two of the head coaches.
Players can participate in one of the five area clubs — the Leeward Football Club, the Windward Football Club, the Kauai Football Club, the Maui Football Club, and the Moku O Keawe Football Club (Hilo) — and Hawaii 8 is ready to start forming them and stocking them with student-athletes.
A planned expansion, with areas in West Hawaii on the Big Island and two areas in Honolulu, will eventually bring the total to eight.
The clubs are loosely based (not officially tied to a school) on their geographical area campuses — Leeward Community College, Windward Community College, Kauai Community College, UH Maui College and Hawaii Community College (Hil0). In the future, Honolulu Community College, Kapiolani Community College and HCC-Palamanui (Kailua-Kona) would be the added area campuses.
“We will spend this spring and summer recruiting for those five areas,” Pule said. “The season will run during the spring semester so we don’t interfere with youth and high school football. All of our head coaches will be assembling their staffs in the coming weeks. We will also be having informational meetings across the state for all interested students and their families.”
The other head coaches are Stacy Iwasaki on Kauai, Aylett Wallwork on Maui and Andrew Chun in Hilo.
“A lot of potential college students leave the islands to pursue their dreams and aspirations of continuing in athletics and our Hawaii families’ hard earned money is going into other communities,” Pule said.“We can support our communities and campuses better. We are targeting students transitioning from high school to college who want to earn their two-year degree or continue move on to get a four-year degree. There are a lot of kids who don’t leave Hawaii for college for various reasons and others return from a mainland college without a degree. We are offering another option for students to earn a degree and play football.”
This plan, if it works, could be a blueprint for other sports such as baseball, soccer, volleyball, basketball and softball to join forces with Hawaii 8, and leaders in some of those sports have expressed interest, Pule said.
Hawaii 8’s board members have had meetings with community college chancellors and say they support the idea even though the schools are not officially tied in, according to Pule.
“They all love it,” Pule said. “They all want the opportunity to meet the needs of students who they have not reached out to in the past. They hope it will eventually bring a new-found energy.”
Funding for Hawaii 8’s equipment, fields, uniforms, officials, transportation and insurance will funnel through HFC by private sponsors, membership and fundraising.
“We have had verbal commitments from sponsors and now that we’ve announced our plans, HFC leaders can start rallying support,” Pule said.
Membership costs for players will be comparable to a youth football player’s expenses, according to Pule.
“We’ve got practice venues identified, game venues identified and a tentative schedule in place,” he added.
Torres, who won five OIA titles and three state championships with the Red Raiders, is HFC’s assistant director and the director of football operations. Doris Sullivan, who has helped many Hawaii high school athletes fulfill their college dreams by facilitating connections to institutions, is also on the seven-member board. She will be a liaison for college football programs interested in recruiting student-athletes from Hawaii 8 clubs and will help the organization in meeting NCAA compliance and eligibility requirements.
Although Hawaii 8 is not a part of the NCAA, players begin their NCAA eligibility clock (generally five years to play four) once they become a full-time college student. There is no age limit for players.
“Hawaii 8 will provide you the opportunity to play college athletics in front of your family and friends,” said Young, who spent four years as the Seariders’ coach. “Our goal is to support our community colleges and help our students build their academic resume.”
Torres is excited.
“It is with enthusiasm that I extend an invitation to anyone who wants to get a college education while playing football,” he said. “Joining Hawaii 8 will give the student-athlete a chance to join a ground-breaking venture bent on developing life skills and attaining a college degree while opening the door to future successes and opportunities.”
According to Pule, students from UH’s Manoa campus UH West Oahu and UH Hilo (and possibly from other private schools in the state) will also be eligible to participate. Club/area affiliation will not be 100 percent based on which school a student-athlete goes to, but all clubs won’t be able to have more than 25 percent of their roster from campuses outside their designated area.
Would love to coach on Maui
Where do I apply?
Looking forward to this. I know the idea of football at the club/community college level here in Hawaii has been kicked around for awhile. Should help give kids a chance to make it to a 4 year school without having to go to the mainland for Junior College.
Awesome. This should be 75% player development and 25% games… A true grey shirt intramural league to maximize eligibility and credit earned.
Good Luck. This is a great idea, not a new one, just the latest, but still a wonderful idea.
I hope that this is able to get off the ground and remain afloat. This will be great for all our kids who did not have any viable options to continue playing football after high school.
Practice and game venues, equipment, uniforms, athletic trainers, physicians, etc.. Thankful to those who are helping to make this a reality with all the logistics that go into coordinating something like this.
Will there be a vetting process for the coaches?? Background Checks? Mandatory trainings?
Beware the Monkey’s!!!!
This just opened up more doors for kids who want to continue their football careers with the ultimate reward of gaining a degree! Too often are kids abadoning their dreams because out-of-pocket expenses at a JUCO that increases the difficulties of transitioning to life away from home.
Thank you, to all who are involved and good luck! I pray, this is a success for the sake of our keiki! Imua!
Contact the club sports director at UHWO.
it’s a good idea in theory but it can’t be corrupted by the ILH and used to only benefit private school players. we all know that cal lee and the HHSAA control hawaii high school football. strong rules need to be put in place to prevent that corruption from infiltrating hawaii 8 too
Care to weigh in on what’s happening in Millilani and how the efforts there are affecting the balance of competition in the OIA? (Football)
when “coach” cal lee and the ILH sets up an uneven playing field by taking advantage of public schools and this “alliance,” then of course the public schools gotta do what they can to fight back. when you set up a biased system against a group of people, do you blame them when they try to fight back?
Im going back to college to play football.
See?!! It works.
When does season start ?