by Gregory Kamisato – Special to The Waialuan
Christmas came early for the Waialua and Haleiwa communities in the form of a varsity football team playing with the heart and soul of a warrior. The Waialua football team’s first participation in the OIA DII Championship game since 1992 has brought the school and community together in the
form of pride and recognition that hasn’t been seen since the last ROIA title in 1955. The unexpected gift has people talking on social media, purchasing football t-shirts, and creating a positive buzz in the community. Alumni have flooded Facebook and Instagram with pictures of the games as well as using the Facebook live feature to stream the games all over the island. The Waialua football team’s achievement is the cherry on top of a sundae of success.
For years, the image of Waialua had been a negative one. When students and alumni said or did something stupid, the next thing line would always be, “Oh my god! You MUST be from Waialua!” The expectation of athletic and academic performance was low. However, over the past few years, there seemed to be a gradual shift of attitude.
People weren’t saying the “you must be from Waialua” line anymore. Test scores were going up and although not wildly successful, athletics were competitive and making the playoffs. The band program grew from 22 students to over 300 this school year. Robotics won numerous regional, national, and world titles. US News and World Report rated Waialua in the Bronze and Silver categories for best high schools in the US. Instead of students transferring TO other schools, parents wanted to SEND their students here. They talked about the accepting, safe, and peaceful atmosphere at Waialua – an environment perfect for those students with special needs. The pride that once infected the Waialua of the 1950’s when the football team won four straight ROIA titles has spread to the new century. Waialua is not the same school it was ten years ago.
The football team playing for a championship made the community of Waialua/Haleiwa display the pride and attitude that had been dormant for so long. Red flags line the chain link fence in front of the school. Homes and businesses put up signs supporting the team for a win on Friday. Students wear red – even when there is no red out. The first batch of t-shirts sold out as a steady stream of people went to the office to purchase some for the game. A second batch will be screened on Thursday and reservations are being taken. Waialua fans were to sit on the side of the stadium opposite of Kahuku, but a parent and supporter called the stadium authority and requested Waialua and Kahuku sit on the same side to create a “sea of red” to show that the best football on this island is played on the North Shore of Oahu.
Please don’t get me wrong, there is so much Waialua High and Intermediate School can and needs to improve on. Everyone involved at the school is determined to get better and not sit on laurels. But that’s for another time. For this week, let’s enjoy the early Christmas present the Bulldog football team has given us. And as we unwrap that gift on Friday night with
all the spirit and happiness of a Christmas morning, let’s hope 61 years without a football championship will finally end under the bright lights of Aloha Stadium.