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UH hopes using athletes will be the ticket

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    UH running back Alex Green wasn't a smooth operator at first but eventually got the calls down.

University of Hawaii quarterback Shane Austin said there is an art to making the right calls.

"You have to be personal," said Austin, who has been helpful in boosting season-ticket renewals for Warrior football games.

School officials said 77 percent of the football season tickets – about 18,500 of 24,000 sold in 2009 – have been renewed. This week, UH started the call-back campaign, with Austin and his teammates asking fans to renew their season tickets.

The players said they received mostly favorable responses.

"One of them asked me about my leg," said wideout Rodney Bradley, whose 2009 season was abbreviated after suffering a fractured tibia and fibula in his left leg. "They were pretty supportive."

Running back Alex Green stumbled during his first call – each player was given a script with options based on responses – but eventually became a smooth operator.

"I got used to it," Green said. "They give you compliments and stuff. At first, it’s like, ‘Who’s this?’ I’ll say, ‘I’m Alex Green, with the UH football team.’ They’ll say stuff like, ‘I like your running style.’ "

Wideout Mike Tinoco said he was able to apply lessons learned in his business classes.

"I actually felt I accomplished something," said Tinoco, who was able to secure renewals from three Warrior fans.

Quarterback Cayman Shutter said he welcomed the opportunity to communicate directly with fans.

"I like talking to season-ticket holders," said Shutter, a Punahou School graduate. "My parents are season-ticket holders. We always get excited when the season tickets show up, and we get the whole booklet. That’s when you get up for the season. As fans, at least, I know what it’s like."

Not all of the calls were fruitful. Several declined to renew, citing the economy. One fan said he "lost faith" in the program.

"We have to understand where they’re coming from," Bradley said. "I can understand because of the way the economy is. Even if they say ‘no,’ it’s good to talk to the people who actually support us."

"Some of the people said they’re too old to come to the games," wideout Jett Jasper added. "They’re 70, 80 years old. I guess that’s a good excuse. But no other excuse will work on me."

Assistant coach Brian Smith, who is coordinating the call-back effort, said the players were willing to help. Still, he admitted, it helped that pizzas were delivered to the offices used as call rooms.

"Food is good motivation," Smith said.

In other football news:

» Cornerback Steven Christian has been cleared to participate in all offseason football activities. Christian, a third-year sophomore, suffered a labrum tear in his right hip after the 2009 spring practice. The injury worsened, requiring surgery in September. His rehabilitation involved slow range-of-motion exercises. Christian is expected to compete at left cornerback in training camp.

» Tinoco, who is recovering from a partially torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, said he is about two weeks away from being able to participate in 7-on-7 drills. During the third week of the five-week spring training, he suffered what was described as a "grade 1, grade 2" sprain." Sprains are rated on a 3-degree scale, with 3 the most severe. He said the injury did not require surgery.

"I’ll be good before fall camp," Tinoco said.


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