Waipio little leaguers treated like rock stars

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's been all lights, cameras, and action since Waipio's little league team came back to the islands. After a long month of playing on the road, they finally returned home a week ago, and Hawaii fans still can't get enough of their national champs.

Pitcher/Catcher Keolu Ramos says, "Coming back home and seeing everyone happy and proud of us, we kind of feel like rock stars."

They've been going from one public appearance to another. On this Labor Day holiday, they headed down to Waikiki for an autograph session with fans. Hawaii's hometown heroes received the red carpet treatment and are enjoying the limelight.

It's tough being a celebrity – with everyone snapping pictures all the time. When we mention to Kahoea Akau that he's a media magnet, the second baseman just beams and nods happily.

When you're national champions, you've got to walk the walk. "We've been signing autographs, getting hugs and pictures, a lot of pictures," says pitcher Shiloh Baniaga. Does he feel like a rock star? "Yes! Yes!"

Just like in Hollywood, rock stars get perks - like getting swag. Catcher Kaimana Bartolome says getting freebies was one of the best parts of the experience, "Bats, gloves, helmets, wristbands, shoes."

And yes, there are other perks, too.

When we asked third baseman Noah Shackles, "Do you get a lot of girls calling you now?" Noah answered with a smile, "Kind of". We laugh and say, "Really!? You're a superstar, that's why!" "Yeah," he responds confidently.

Girls swoon. Younger boys are inspired. And when you're a celebrity, you become a trendsetter. Kaimana Bartolome's two-toned 'U.S. champs' swirl cut could be coming to a barbershop near you.

For now, these little league legends will leave the big league bravado for others. They're just happy to represent their state. Left fielder Brysen Yoshii says, "Being there and just winning - and making Hawaii proud."

Yes, Waipio you have made us all proud.

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