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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, June 17, 2001

Trapasso linking past to present

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Columnist

When he was presented as the University of Hawai'i's new baseball coach, Mike Trapasso talked about the Rainbows' rich history and restoring a proud past.

Just the sort of things you'd expect from a rookie coach in a new environment, one intent upon making a good first impression.

But, in the midst of that whirlwind first day, Trapasso got in a car and did something that spoke more eloquently of his commitment than his words could have. Trapasso made the trek up to 'Ainakoa, where Les Murakami, his Hall of Fame predecessor, lives.

There, with an unmatched view of Diamond Head, representatives of Rainbow baseball — past and present — talked for maybe an hour. We're told these two men, one on the job at UH for 30 seasons and the other for just days, discussed mutual friends in the coaching business and a variety of things.

Most significantly, they talked about building a bridge, one to link the eras in what has been UH's most successful men's sport.

"I asked him if, at times, I could come up and pick his brain," Trapasso said. "I asked if I could come back sometime and ask his advice, one-on-one, on some matters. And he was kind enough to say that was fine. That meant a lot to me since he has forgotten more than I will probably know," Trapasso said.

Make no mistake that with a three-year contract the job is Trapasso's to do with what he can. And that he will be very much his own man in doing so.

Yet, it is refreshing to see somebody with both a genuine sense of history about the position and the security to admit there might be things he could learn. Someone willing to seek counsel.

Gosh knows this has too often been the exception rather than the rule at UH. You'll remember the Rainbows once hired a basketball coach who came in knowing it all, someone long on grandiose promises and painfully short of results.

Not so long ago we had a new football coach who thought he was the only one in the state who understood Division IA football and wasn't shy about sharing the assumption. Then, he proceeded to match an NCAA record for futility.

While it remains to be seen what might come from this most preliminary of meetings, it cannot help but be a positive step. Rebuilding the Rainbows' fortunes anytime soon is going to be more than a one-man job. It must be a collaborative effort of many.

And a living room atop 'Ainakoa was a good place for the new coach to start.