A few minutes before the McKinley at Waialua football game on Friday night, the Bulldogs’ homecoming queen arrived in the press box and took a seat near the public address announcer.
Maybe she was going to give notes to the announcer to read at halftime while the homecoming court is introduced.
Lea’a Puleiala took a pen and paper and a scoresheet and started taking stats.
“Are you in the court or are you the queen,” a reporter asked.
“The queen,” Puleiala said.
Wow. Like, um, aren’t you busy? Aren’t you part of THE halftime show? Don’t you have to get ready?
But there she was all dressed up and busily jotting down the stats for all of the first half. Luckily, the Waialua press box is not as dingy as some others on the island. No cobwebs. No dust. No grime to get on her flowing cream dress.
Of course, Puleiala never made it back to the press box after the halftime festivities. Too much to do, right? Photo ops and other homecoming court stuff. She left her earrings up in the booth, too. Apparently, earrings were not a big part of her outfit. Or, maybe she had another pair ready to go.
Way after the game (a 22-0 loss to the Tigers), when the Waialua team and the Bulldogs’ faithful fans gathered for potluck time, she was told the earrings were still up in the booth.
“No worries,” she said. “I’ll go and get them tomorrow. They’ll still be there.”
So, how is it that the homecoming queen and the statistician are one person?
“My dad is one of the coaches for the football team and we have a lot of uncles that coach and help out,” she said. “My dad, he made us come out with water one day (years ago), and it turned out the coaches needed help with stats, so I stepped up to the plate and helped with the stats. Ever since my eighth-grade year, I’ve been taking stats for Waialua High and Intermediate School.”
So why not take the night off as far as stat-keeping goes for the special homecoming occasion?
“I felt bad because there is only two of us, me and my best friend while my sister is doing the water,” Puleiala said. “I took stats tonight because it’s a pretty big deal — because I also play sports (volleyball, basketball and softball) and I know how much it means for the players.”