comscore Turns out we're not over the Rainbows after all | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Turns out we’re not over the Rainbows after all

Honolulu Star-Advertiser logo
Unlimited access to premium stories for as low as $12.95 /mo.
Get It Now

    Joe Pacheco, left, a UH band member from 1980 to 1989, brought a tuba to lend some pep to a gathering of Rainbows faithful at the Manoa campus' Bachman Hall on Friday afternoon. The gathering organized by Steve Chinen saw some 60 to 70 people who showed up to implore the Univesity of Hawaii administration to keep the Rainbows nicknamae for the men's athletic teams.
  • left

A stunning change of mind by Hawaii athletic director Ben Jay on UH’s nickname caused shock — some pleasant, some not — across the UH sports landscape.

Jay’s announcement Tuesday that all UH men’s sports teams will be known as the Rainbow Warriors, and not just Warriors as he said in February, satisfied some UH fans and followers, while upsetting others.

The change from the three current men’s nickname variations (Rainbows, Rainbow Warriors and Warriors) will still take place July 1. All UH women’s sports teams will remain Rainbow Wahine.

Jay acknowledged it would be impossible to satisfy all visions of what UH’s moniker should be, but said that he felt compelled to reverse field after a steady stream of support for the Rainbow name since his original decision Feb. 13.

"The reason for the change? I had second thoughts," Jay said. "I thought about it again as I was coming back from my trip (to Boston for UH water polo) and taking in all of the public’s comments and from the constituency. … The change doesn’t really hurt us. We’re really going to be able to do the kinds of branding that we’re still going to be able to do."

Some of the old guard of UH sports reacted favorably to the unexpected announcement.

"People that liked Warriors, I could see their point. People that liked Rainbows, I could see their point," said sportscaster Jim Leahey, who was outspoken on the subject on last week’s "Leahey & Leahey Show" on PBS. "When you combine the two, there’s no arguments here. That’s the way it should have been a long time ago, and hopefully that’s the way it will be for generations to come."

Don Robbs, the radio voice of the Rainbow baseball team, said he’d prepared himself for "Warriors" as the team’s future, but Tuesday’s news made the transition much easier.

"I was elated, very pleased with the decision," Robbs said. "I’m glad Ben Jay did hear other opinions and thoughts on the subject. And I’m very pleased that he was able to back off and come with, I suppose this would be a compromise. So that shows me a lot."

State representative K. Mark Takai said he was pleasantly surprised a change came. He and 20 other members of the UH-Manoa Letterwinners Club Board of Directors submitted a letter to Jay on May 1 requesting he hold off on any nickname change at all.

"Speaking as the president of the Letterwinners Club, I think that Ben actually made the right decision, and now we can get onto the more important aspects of athletics, which is raising funds and supporting our teams," Takai said. "I think for the past four or five months, this nickname situation has been a distraction."

Stephen Chinen, a UH fan who organized the Rally4Rainbows on campus earlier this month (it drew about 50 supporters) reveled in the day’s dramatic swing and braced for a bevy of feedback.

"Yes, it’s been good-kine hectic," he said. "And it’s going to be fun responding to all of them. I think our passion helped make a difference."

Jay said the letterwinners’ letter and the rally were not driving factors. He was not in town for the latter.

"That wasn’t the impetus for all of this," he said. "It really was a lot of the other folks who really communicated with me. It didn’t just happen last week or the week before. This has really been kind of building since February. As I always do, I sit back and I listen to folks, and talk to them about this. That’s what really led me to this."

He said there is no planned change to the "H" logo.

Three coaches of UH men’s sports whose sports are affected by Jay’s announcement —football’s Norm Chow, baseball’s Mike Trapasso and volleyball’s Charlie Wade — ranged between receptive and indifferent to the move.

"Our job is completely different from all of this," Chow said. "I don’t think it will hurt anything — recruiting certainly won’t be bothered by it. Like I said, we need to put a good product on the field. That’s what we’re all about."

Trapasso said: "It encompasses the Warrior pride, but it keeps our history and our tradition with the Rainbows. … I think it’s a great decision and we’ll move on. If anybody now complains, then no matter what happens then they’re going to complain."

There was opposition to Jay’s decision.

Not everyone was happy with the change.

Paul Connell, a fan who prefers the Warriors name, said the amount of support expressed for "Rainbows" did not warrant a change.

"Ben Jay just dropped a notch in my book," Connell said. "Only 50 or so people felt the urge to attend a Rainbow rally that had been promoted for weeks."

Jay acknowledged he could have done things differently for his first major decision at UH.

"I probably would have, if I had to do it all over again," Jay said. "But again, I wasn’t sure I was going to get any consensus. What was very evident from all of the people I was talking to, they were all over the place in regards to what name we should be."

Comments have been disabled for this story...

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up