HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The end of 2019 brought high hopes for the next decade of Hawaii sports, but no one could have predicted how 2020 would turn out.
In a year that seemed to bring so much promise, ultimately put sports on an indefinite pause. The Coronavirus Pandemic raged across the globe, leaving many scrambling trying to figure out what to do next, but in a time when we were told to stay apart, sports brought us all together — here’s a look back at some of the most memorable Hawaii sports moments from the year 2020.
January might seem like a decade ago, but the first month of the year was actually jammed packed with sports, from the rebirth of the Hula Bowl to the Sony Open.
Coming off of a 10-win season with the University of Hawaii football program, head coach Nick Rolovich parted ways with the ‘Bows and moved to Washington State University, with new head coach Todd Graham being hired shortly after — leaving many to question how UH would look in the fall.
On top of all of that, the tragic passing of basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi in a Helicopter crash would shock the entire sports world — Bryant would visit Hawaii for training camp with the Los Angeles Lakers for many years.
It seemed like the loss of Kobe Bryant would be the hardest hit to sports this year, until March came and the COVID-19 crisis hit the United States.
The UH men’s Volleyball and women’s basketball programs were in the middle of their Big West Tournaments before they were told that their seasons were done, along with all of the other UH sports, leaving fall sports wondering if they would even play.
The Hawaii High School Athletics Association also postponed their sports seasons, ultimately canceling high school sports until January of 2021.
Fast forward to August, when the NBA restarted their season using the “bubble” format, while the MLB had no fans in their ballparks — one of our first looks at the “new normal”.
September would see the return of the NFL and UH football after initially being postponed until 2021, the ‘Bows would play an eight-game schedule, giving the islands an introduction to the Todd Graham era in Manoa.
The ‘Bows would go 4-4 on the season, with a chance to perform on the national stage with an invite to the New Mexico Bowl — played in Frisco, Texas due to the pandemic — where they played Houston.
A dominating victory over the Cougars would give fans high hopes for the future of Rainbow Warriors football under Todd Graham.
As the Winter months approached, so did Hawaii’s most beloved sport — surfing. The Women’s Maui Pro and the Pipe Masters ran through the month of December, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
A shark attack at Maui’s Honolua Bay, forced the Maui Pro to pause indefinitely, then event officials made the decision to finish the remaining heats on the North Shore of Oahu — where Tyler Wright would beat local girl Carissa Moore in the finals to usher in a new era in the Women’s tour.
For the Pipe Masters, that event was halted after an outbreak of COVID-19 within the event staff, but after the pause it was North Shore native John John Florence coming out on top — finally becoming a Pipe Master in his own backyard.
Just as the year began to wind down, things took a turn for the unexpected again, the Stadium Authority announced that Aloha Stadium would not hold new events — leaving UH football searching for a new home.
Despite the setbacks that 2020 brought, it also gave the islands hope for the future of Hawaii sports, in the NFL, Hawaii’s Tua Tagovailoa is trying to get his Miami Dolphins into the playoffs — along with a few other local boys trying to make a playoff push.
So if 2020 taught the world anything, it’s to expect the unexpected and roll with the punches — Here’s to many more Hawaii sports moments in 2021.