Why Bother? Well, to entertain fans
BY Stephen Tsai
Soon after being named as the head coach for Hawai'i men's volleyball in June, Charlie Wade hit the recruiting trail.
In an effort to rejuvenate the mood at matches, Wade made pitches to Gwen Nakamura, the assistant director for the UH band, and Mike Baker, the head coach of the school's cheerleaders.
Wade then sought the so-called "Rubberband Man" — Alan Hackbarth — whose Gumby-like dance moves enlivened volleyball timeouts during the 1990s.
Wade did not have to bend over backward in his request; Hackbarth, after all, has perfected that move, along with several other spine-defying gyrations.
"I wanted to help out," Hackbarth said. "I knew Charlie when he was with the (Rainbow) Wahine (as an associate coach). He's a good guy."
Now the cheerleaders, the band and the Rubberband Man are regular entertainers at Warrior volleyball matches.
And Wade, whose team plays Hope International tonight and tomorrow night in the Stan Sheriff Center, is not done.
Following tomorrow's match will be the first "Volley Ka Pila" — a concert performed by the musical group Why Bother, which won the state's Band Champ competition.
"I'm excited about it," said UH redshirt setter Kala'e Camarillo, who sings and plays ukulele for Why Bother.
Band Champ was a state-wide competition featuring groups from Hawai'i's most populated islands. Each week a group was eliminated in American Idol-like style. The competition was televised statewide.
"It was a good experience," Camarillo said. "We won a lot of money."
Why Bother opened for America and the Stylistics.
Why Bother's ties to UH were an ideal fit for Wade, who sought a way to boost attendance at volleyball matches.
"Even through the (job) interview process, we talked about how to increase attendance, how to make the event more of an event," Wade said. "Obviously winning and playing with emotion really help. The fans like that. We asked ourselves: what can we do to bring new fans? We hope (the concert) will encourage fans who might not come (to a match) to come down, and for the fans who always come, this will add some value. It will be a little more bang for your buck."
In the first two years of what was then known as the Special Events Arena, the band and cheerleaders regularly performed at Warrior volleyball matches. But either because of the greater use of pre-recorded music or scheduling conflicts, eventually the band and cheerleaders were not used.
Later, for six years in the renamed Stan Sheriff Center, Vili the Warrior served as the crowd rouser. But the program ran out of money to pay Vili.
Then, two years ago, the UH band agreed to perform again, but only once every other match. So far this year, the band and cheerleaders have performed at every match.
So, too, has Hackbarth, whose appearances became fewer after he joined the fire department. But the past summer, Hackbarth was promoted to fire inspector, a job that allows him to attend all of the home matches for the first time in 10 years.
Hackbarth, now 33, appears to be as spry as he was in 1995, when he first started dancing at matches as a dare from football teammates.
Hackbarth, who does not rehearse, relies on "whatever comes into my mind. Hopefully it works out."
Although the Warriors no longer play to capacity crowds, Hackbarth said, "the excitement is back. I think the people are coming around again."