As the University of Hawaii gears up for the fall semester, students have more to look forward to than term papers, morning traffic, and parking woes. The semester also brings the UH Athletics fall season for the UH Football Warriors and the Rainbow Wahine Volleyball team. Beloved by students and generations of Hawaii families, home games are well-attended, and a great way for visitors to experience being among local families enjoying time-honored traditions.

Although UH Football has had a disappointing last few seasons, fans remain fiercely loyal. Setting up tailgate parties early in the parking lot at Aloha Stadium on game day, residents have methodical procedures and secret recipes that are repeated faithfully week after week. It’s more ritual than routine, imbued with a special significance that diehard fans of any sport or team in the U.S. can appreciate. Walk through the parking lot before a game, smile as you pass a tailgate party underway, and don’t be surprised if you’re offered some sort of local delicacy.

Neighboring season ticket holders become like extended families enjoying watching the kids grow up to become fans themselves. UH Football fans come in all shape and sizes, from aspiring Pop Warner youngsters to grandmothers who probably know more about the team and its players than the people announcing the game. A UH Football game is a true cross section of Hawaii’s wildly diverse population.

Tickets are fairly easy to get, however because UH is a Division-1 team, they sometimes play big-name teams like USC. Those games tend to sell out, or come close to it. And when UH plays BYU (Brigham Young University), forget about it.
The same thing can be experienced at the Stan Sheriff Center, where the Wahine Volleyball team plays its home games (minus the tailgating, however). And while UH Football has enjoyed success in the past, most notably an appearance in the 2008 Sugar Bowl (they lost), no UH team has enjoyed more success than “The Wahine.”

Under Head Coach Dave Shoji, The Wahine have won four national championships. Perhaps most impressively, The Wahine have been Conference Champions or Co-Champions every year since 1995. Shoji, lovingly referred to as “Dave” by fans, is the winningest coach in NCAA Division-1 Women’s Volleyball history, as has twice been named Coach of the Year.

Notably, Wahine Volleyball has led the nation in attendance each year since 1996. Tickets are not hard to come by, but when other national powerhouses like Penn State or Nebraska come to town, the matches are likely to sell out.

So if you’re a sports fan vacationing on Oahu in the fall, you’d do well to take in a game with either team. It’s as close as we get to professional, big-league sports (the farcical NFL Pro Bowl notwithstanding), and a fine way to immerse yourself in local culture.

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