Lahainaluna football returns to practice nearly one month after Lahaina wildfires

One month after the deadly wildfires ravaged Lahaina, the Lahainaluna football team is back to practice.
Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 8:58 AM HST|Updated: Sep. 8, 2023 at 5:24 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - One month after the deadly wildfires ravaged Lahaina, the Lahainaluna football team is back to practice.

The sounds of pads clashing, filled the air at the South Maui Community Park in Kihei as the Lunas came together for their first official practice since being displaced after the disaster.

The Lunas put their unmistakable red helmets on for the first time in thirty days.

Lahainaluna was set to Open their season against Hilo On August 12th before the fires rolled through their beloved town.

Now back on a temporary practice field, there’s positive energy flowing through the team.

“You can just see it in the kids.” Lahainaluna co-head coach Dean Rickard told Hawaii News Now. “We’re about a month removed from the disaster that took place and you know, it’s still fresh in everyone’s mind, but at the same time, there’s a little pep in their step.”

Practice, giving players a chance to escape the gravity of their situation, if only for a moment.

“Share their experiences, lean on each other and you know, and if necessary, just be there for that emotional release.”

“We really need this.” Lunas running back James Lukela-Kobatake said. “Our town needs this, I believe it’s going to bring the community back.”

Without getting to ahead of themselves, the thought of bringing a State title back to Lahaina -- this year in particular -- would be surreal.

“That would mean everything.” Coach Rickard said. “That solidify this this team and their legacy within the community.”

The squad is set to take on Baldwin in their first game of the season and according to some of the player’s family members, there won’t be an empty seat or a dry eye in the stadium.

“Its hard to cope with losing everything and the boys football, but the football is actually going to help the community.” Sibling of Lahainaluna players Ilisapeta Manukia said. “They’re going to come together and support each other.”

The red tide from the West Side begins their season on September 30th against Baldwin.