By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
Let’s take one final look back at the Year 2021 and relive the notable triumphs, losses and memorable moments from the world of sports:
CHAMPS: In Columbus, Ohio, the University of Hawaii men’s volleyball team captures the 2021 national championship by sweeping BYU. It was the program’s first official national title, and the school’s first team national championship since 1987.
REST IN ALOHA: It is always tragic when our heroes and icons leave us too soon, but Hawaii sports fans endured a pair of sudden passings in 2021. On May 11, former UH great Colt Brennan died of an accidental drug overdose. A little more than a month later, on June 19th, beloved Island sports announcer and TV personality Robert Kekaula died.
TEAM TURMOIL: The UH football team’s 6-7 season was disappointing enough, but the aftermath has been a complete disaster. Chevan Cordeiro, Darius Muasau, Dae Dae Hunter, Jonah Laulu, Nick Mardner, Cameron Lockridge and Justus Tavai are among the big-time contributors who have either already left the program or are in the process of doing so. While it’s true that the transfer portal is impacting every major football program in the country, the accusations of deteriorating team morale, favoritism and verbal/emotional abuse need to be looked into and dealt with. The thing is, getting rid of the head coach may not be the answer, either. Do we really want the players running the program?
COVID CHAOS: Just when we thought the COVID-19 pandemic had possibly peaked, here comes the omicron variant to screw us again. Games are once again being canceled or rescheduled due to the virus. And even though the NFL has done everything it can to keep the games going, can we honestly say that the integrity of the season hasn’t been compromised? We’ve already seen games with playoff implications being impacted by COVID.
HELLO AGAIN: In 2021, Phil Mickelson won his first PGA TOUR major in eight years and, at age 50, became the oldest golfer to win a major.
MAGNIFICENT SEVEN: In 2020, after leading the New England Patriots to six Super Bowl championships, QB Tom Brady signed on with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On Feb. 7 of this year, Brady capped his inaugural season with the Bucs by leading them to a 31-9 win over Kansas City in Super Bowl LV.
REIGN OF THE RED RAIDERS: Kahuku capped a perfect 10-0 season in 2021 by dominating Saint Louis, 49-14, in the HHSAA Football Open Division State Championship Game. The win ended the Crusaders’ four-year run as Open Division champs.
HEALTH & HAPPINESS: Tennis star Naomi Osaka and world champion gymnast Simone Biles both dropped out of competitions in 2021, citing the need to take care of their mental health. Both athletes were praised by some observers, and criticized by others. But no doubt, their actions served to raise awareness about the issue of mental health for our society at large.
TIGER’S TALE: In February, Tiger Woods was involved in a single-car collision that required emergency surgery to repair compound fractures in both legs as well as a shattered ankle. The damage was so severe that, according to Woods, the possibility of amputation “was on the table.” Fortunately, while his career as a full-time competitor is likely over, Woods expects to play in select PGA TOUR events in the future. He recently took part in the PNC Championship, where Woods and his 12-year-old son Charlie placed second.
GETTING FREAKY: Superstar forward Giannis Antentokounmpo led the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA title in 50 years. In the close-out Game 6 in the NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns, the “Greek Freak” scored 50 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and had 5 blocks. He was unanimously voted the series MVP.