Prized freshman elusive on, off field
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By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
The bags were packed and the hugs were waiting, but Mike Bass had slipped off the radar screen yesterday afternoon.
"Where's your brother?" Cynthia Bass yelled, her voice echoing throughout their house in Corona, Calif.
Mike Bass, one of the University of Hawai'i football team's prized recruits, needed to leave in 30 minutes to be on time for his scheduled flight to the Islands.
"I apologize," Cynthia Bass said to a caller. "I guess he went to say goodbye to a couple of girls. You know, he doesn't have one girlfriend. He has, well, I like to call them all 'friends.' They've been coming by all weekend. It's the long goodbye."
Ten minutes later, her son appeared.
"It's been hard, really hard, to say goodbye to my friends," said Bass, a standout running back. "I'm going to miss my mom a lot. I don't know how I'll do without her cooking. But it's time to grow up. I need to get out of the city. It's hard, but I'm ready to go."
Bass is one of 30 newcomers scheduled to report to the UH football team today. (The returning players must report by Wednesday; training camp opens Thursday night.)
"I'm excited, but a little scared," Bass said.
He has little to fear. Soon after being named UH head coach in December 1998, June Jones implemented a no-hazing rule. To ease the transition for newcomers, Jones uses a modified mentor program in which he pairs experienced and first-time players as roommates during the 10 days of training camp.
"It's like a Big Brothers program," senior slotback Craig Stutzmann said. "The veteran takes around the new guy. We try to make the new guys feel as close to home as possible. We know a lot of them are thousands of miles away from home, so we want to make them feel at home."
Senior safety Jacob Espiau said a newcomer "only has to worry if he's not working hard. Other than that, they have nothing to fear. We want to win. That's what we want to focus on. We don't want to waste our time (on hazing)."
Said Bass: "I'm just going to go there and do my best. Hopefully, everything will work out."