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Monday, July 28, 2014         

FERD'S WORDS


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Trapasso’s milestone a reminder of his unexpected longevity at UH

By Ferd Lewis

POSTED:



One of the most noteworthy things about University of Hawaii baseball coach Mike Trapasso’s milestone 300th victory the other day was the lack of fanfare that accompanied it.

Much of the cheering that followed the 10-2 victory over Louisiana Tech on Saturday was understandably reserved for what, at the time, was a sixth consecutive victory, marking the Rainbows’ best start to the Western Athletic Conference since 1988.

But Trapasso hitting the 300-victory plateau came with a significance of its own that should not be overlooked.

It was a juncture and a moment worthy of recognition. Not to mention celebration and reflection. And, in private, you have to imagine Trapasso probably indulged in some of both.

For many who have followed the ’Bows over the years, the issue wasn’t so much whether Trapasso would reach that number as a head coach, but what uniform he’d be wearing when he got there.

Can we have a show of hands of all those who believed he would do it in green and white with “Hawaii” written across the front?

For a while the perception was that Trapasso, like a lot of young guys in their first head coaching jobs, couldn’t wait to strike a quick mark and move on. The feeling was that UH was envisioned to be a steppingstone back to the Midwest or a job in a power conference.

Then, through some lagging fortunes, it looked like he might be prodded to get moving until the ’Bows went on their memorable stretch run last season.

Now, at the midway mark of his 10th season, we’ve witnessed a coach and his program grow together to the point where they have come to the realization they have not only been good for each other but have grown on each other, too. One sign of that is that Trapasso’s eldest son will enroll at UH.

You appreciate the way he has beefed up schedules and broadened his local recruiting and hope it leads to more consistent returns to the postseason.

When Trapasso looks up in the stands on a night like the one that brought the milestone victory and feels the buzz of upwards of 3,000 fans, there is a lot to be proud of on the way to a 300-259 record. And, as he will no doubt be among the first to suggest, plenty more to accomplish.

It hasn’t been easy following the legend of Les Murakami in a stadium named after the iconic father of the program. Especially when you know there cannot be another in terms of  Murakami’s vision, victories (1,079) and durability.

As is the case with Wahine volleyball coach Dave Shoji, the days of coaches as institutions staying at one school for 30 years in any revenue sport are like $2-a-gallon gasoline, the stuff of fond memories.

So dramatically has the landscape changed in baseball in particular, with game limits, calendar limitations, Academic Performance Ratings and such, that it will be rare for anybody who has begun coaching a college baseball program in the past decade to get anywhere near Murakami’s resume at a non-Bowl Championship Series conference member.

“I’m proud of what Mike’s done,” athletic director Jim Donovan said. “I think it is a great accomplishment and I look forward to being around for Mike’s 500th win, which I think will be an even bigger accomplishment.”

That would really be something to celebrate.

———

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@staradvertiser.com.






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