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Hawaii football community excited to have fans back in stands

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Hawaii football community excited to have fans back in stands

The days of empty grandstands are over in Hawaii. 

Today, after nearly two years of quiet football games and sporting events, Hawaii Gov. David Ige and Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced that fans will be allowed in stands. 

"This is not an all-clear, but this is a reason for optimism going forward," Blangiardi said during his press conference today. "We all watched last week as Hawaii beat Fresno State, a nationally-ranked team and there was two fans in the end zones. It was hard and the team won in spite of it. Now, we're going to allow fans at the games...We are requiring vaccinations. We are requiring mask wearing."

The official number of fans allowed for Hawaii's rematch with New Mexico State on October 23rd will be capped at 1,000 and will consist of a combination of Rainbow Warrior friends and family, UH season ticket holders, opposing team fans and students. 

According to the University, "Everyone attending UH home athletic events will need to comply with UH's COVID-19 vaccination policy. This includes uploading proof of vaccination to the UH LumiSight app, receiving approval (may take up to 24 hours), passing the daily health check-in on the app and showing the green "You may report to campus" status with the current date to be allowed into the stadium on gameday. There will be no concession stands, face masks will be required unless actively drinking water and attendees must be physically distanced."

Along with Hawaii's football matchup, fans will also be allowed on Oct. 14 for Hawaii's home soccer match vs. UC Irvine and for Oct. 29th's Wahine volleyball match against UC Davis. 

While members of UH athletics would like to have more fans, they recognize the importance of having any crowd at all. 

"Today is a day to be grateful," UH-Manoa athletic director David Matlin said. "We're looking forward to having fans for our student athletes, especially their parents. We know how difficult it has been for them and I'm confident that we will have more fans as we go forward."

After an upset comeback 27-24 win on Homecoming night, the Rainbow Warriors remarked during practice this week a wish for fans to return to their games.

"My wife and child are here. I feel like it would have been special to have had them at the Fresno State game so we could feed off of the energy of the crowd," UH defensive lineman Pita Tonga said.

"It's hard because you want to have the mindset that things like that don't really matter when it comes to your performance," tight end Caleb Phillips said. "But at the same time, that's one of the reasons you play the game. I love seeing my parents and family in the stands and having that support is huge."

Although the Hawaii Department of Education is still finalizing plans for high school football, teams are excited to finally get back to football after watching their ILH counterparts play for a majority of this fall. 

It goes without saying, Hawaii football fans are family to these teams figuratively--and, most of the time, literally.

"People don't want to say it, but at the end of the day we're all still Mama's boys," Mililani head coach Rod York said. "We play for our moms, we play for our dads, that's our motivation. So when they weren't allowed--which we never thought we'd see in our lifetime--it's like they took our heart. But now with fans, you brought our heart back and that's the difference between Hawaii football and the rest of the world."