The sweet dreams of Hawaii football players were interrupted by the BAM-BAM-BAM pounding on doors Tuesday.
It was 5:30 a.m.
“I was thinking, ‘What’s going on?'” said linebacker T.J. Taimatuia, whose Warriors are training at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam this week.
What was happening was an introduction into the daily life of a military person.
With physical-training captains at full volume and rage, the Warriors were hustled out of their rooms, in full training wear, and thrust into a morning workout that would make an officer and a gentleman wince.
The Warriors met outside their dormitory-styled barracks in two straight lines. A player wiping the makapiapia from his eyes was called “Sunshine,” as in “Get moving, Sunshine.” Another sleep walker was called “Cupcake.”
Some were sent back to their rooms for failing to wear socks.
Others were berated, then sent back to their rooms to retrieve their workout shoes. When a player fumbled for an explanation as to why he would run outside barefooted, the trainer asked: “Too many football concussions?”
Cornerback Tony Grimes had been prepared for this type of situation.
“I always sleep with my socks on,” Grimes said.
But when he smirked while standing in line, Grimes was then referred to only by his haircut.
“You’re only doing this one day, Mohawk,” Chief Nixon Galon yelled at Grimes. “We do this every day.”
After push-ups on the dew-moistened lawn, the Warriors marched, in double file, to a field where they spent the next hour doing military-styled exercises.
“I didn’t expect this at all,” Grimes said.
But Grimes did not complain and, later, he was told to move to the front to lead his teammates.
“Mohawk came around,” Galon said.
Grimes said: “In the end, it worked out for the best. I liked the experience. I didn’t like getting up early. I was actually knocked out when they woke me up. But we learned a lot from this.”
Afterward, Chow got smoke in his eyes.
“What a tremendous experience,” Chow said, softly. “I had to contain myself. It makes everyone understand, I hope, the privilege we have to be college football players. We’re in two-a-days. They do this every day of their lives. It’s a humbling experience.
Chow added: “I told our guys, we get to go home this weekend. Some of these guys are going off to war. Their family and loved ones don’t even know if they’re coming back or not. We know we’re going back to a comfortable life, a privileged life to play football. We want to think about others who are making sacrifices.”
The point was driven when the players marched to the PacAF building, a concrete facility that once housed 3,200 military personnel. It was on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japanese attackers, who had run out of bombs, sprayed the building with bullets.
The players looked at the bullet holes that still remain. It was quiet enough to hear a tear drop.
Then Chow asked the players to show appreciation to their hosts in the way they know best. The Warriors performed a rousing haka.
“It’s amazing all of the history here,” UH defensive end Paipai Falemalu said. “We’re grateful to the troops. They’re fighting for our freedom, but they’re allowing us to stay here and play football.”