When foul weather turned some fields across Oahu into soup on Friday, those fortunate enough to have artificial turf counted their blessings. The Leilehua Mules were among that group.
Aside from some distant lightning raising a few concerns of postponement, Leilehua was able to go ahead with its game against Waipahu without a hitch. The Mules prevailed 38-0, improving to 2-2 in the OIA Red Conference.
In the past, the Mules’ field was one of the most susceptible to turning into a mud bowl, and with the saturation hitting Oahu lately, it likely would have been quite the sty Friday without the turf.
It’s been a couple years since the surface and accompanying drainage system was put in, but it still looks brand new.
“Just so blessed to have the type of field like this, not just us but other schools that have turf fields,” Leilehua coach Nolan Tokuda said after Friday’s win. “So honored and blessed at the same time. This (Wahiawa) community loves football and deserves a good product on the field, and I’m just so proud of our guys.”
Even though it’s not real grass and dirt, the field still requires upkeep. That’s where Tokuda said longtime Leilehua soccer coach Matt Smithe is invaluable.
“He’s been here for how many years already, his dad was a coach here, an OIA executive. And he’s been here from when he was a child,” Tokuda said. “He continues to help prep the field anytime there’s anything on the field, whether it’s a divot or something ripped.”
Tokuda pointed to an area near the south goalpost where water had accumulated faster than it could be drained in the days leading up to the game.
“Or we had this area here all lifted up because of the weather. He leaves his house, he comes here in the pouring rain in slippers and he gets the field ready for us. He comes down with those black (rubber) beads, he sets up all the areas for us, tells us what areas we need to watch for. So, I’m just so lucky that I don’t have to do anything and I have guys like Coach Matt who do that for me.
“He loves this field and loves this school. He just gives back. He doesn’t get paid for it, but he takes care of it and makes it easy for us because we don’t have to do anything. So I appreciate him.”
During the second half, a thick mist or fog descended on the Hugh Yoshida Stadium field. Tokuda marveled at it on his way to debrief his team, comparing it to Chicago’s Soldier Field, a reference to the “Fog Bowl” in the late 1980s.
Here are a couple more shots of the misty stadium from Friday night.