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Mahalo for funding Friday Night Lights

By Staff | Aug 20, 2009

Throughout the ages, the Friday or Saturday night lights of high school football was the biggest game in town. With no professional or collegiate athletic events for Valley Isle sports fans and families to follow, prep gridiron action under the lights was the focal point for the local community every year during the fall months.

Economic hard times had forced a rescheduling of the 2009 Maui Interscholastic League football season to the point that half of this fall’s games were to be played in the afternoon hours to save money that would have gone to pay for lighting at the perennial “big” events of the local social calendar.

Thousands of youngsters, teens and adult fans would thus be relegated to a human bake session under the tropic sun as opposed to the coolness of Maui weekend evenings under the lights supporting their hometown teams. A “catch 22” would then have entered the picture, as fewer fans would attend the games, thus lowering the revenue from MIL football that goes to support all of the high school athletic programs.

But true to the nature of people of Hawaii to be pono, political leaders, businessmen and the local community have stepped forward to make things right. According to Lahainaluna High School Athletic Director Scott Soldwisch, who also serves as MIL director of football, State Sen. Shan Tsutsui and State Rep. Kyle Yamashita contacted MIL Executive Director Joe Balangitao Jr. to see if there was a way to get the lights shining on high school football here on the Valley lsle. Tsutsui, Yamashita and Balangitao put an effort together to raise the money for night games.

With generous contributions from Maui Linen Supply, Yamashita, Tsutsui, Alexander and Baldwin, American Resort Development Association, Atlas Insurance, Central Pacific Bank, Da Kitchen, Dowling Company, Dorvin D. Leis Company, Island Honda, Marmac Ace Hardware, Maui Memorial Medical Center Foundation, Maui Oil Company, Maui Soda & Ice, Maui Thing, Napa, Pacific Radio Group, Pukalani Superette, SSFM International, SuperStop, and Tony Takitani, more than $30,000 was raised to defer the costs of turning on the lights.

Now, 19 of the 20 MIL regular season games — the Oct. 24 contest between Kamehameha Maui and Lahainaluna at the Lunas’ home field (with no lights) is the lone exception — will kick off at 7 p.m. at War Memorial Stadium, King Kekaulike and Kanaiapuni Stadium for the hometown faithful.

Way to go, Maui!

Along these same goal lines, the “Re-do the Imu” 2009 Lahainaluna Tailgate event — the effort to bring a state-of-the-art facility with lights to the West Side — continues to gain momentum through fund-raisers at Wiki Lube and Car Wash and Panda Express at Lahaina Gateway Center.

Jeff Rogers, LHS Foundation development coordinator, urges all Lunas supporters to take part in the drive that will culminate with the Tailgate Party on Aug. 29 at the Imu on campus.

That event will include food from Cool Cat Café, Coca-Cola products provided by Maui Soda & Ice, games and prizes for the kids and entertainment by the LHS band and cheerleaders. Gates will open at 9 a.m. to lead up to the 12:45 p.m. kickoff of the football game between the Lunas and Kauai High Red Raiders. An added bonus will be special guest announcer Neil Everett, ESPN West Coast anchor.

For more information, please call (808) 661-5332 or (808) 662-4000. Help the foundation pursue a modern home stadium for the Lunas and community events.