When he was 7 years old, Bubba Akana got an autographed ball from University of Hawaii head baseball coach Mike Trapasso. He still has it.
Lately he’s been bringing it out more often as the day when he gets to put on a Rainbow Warrior uniform gets closer and closer.
His dad put a ball in his hand as a baby. “At 3 years old, I was in the yard hitting a baseball already,” Akana said.
Whatever the sport, that’s how it’s always been ever since.
Now, the senior quarterback is nearing the end of a three-sport career at Saint Francis. He credits his dad, who was also his high school head coach for baseball and football, for his success.
“Without him, I wouldn’t be where I am today, because he really taught me everything I know,” Akana said.
Basketball season remains but this football season was one for the books. Little brothers, Chase and Kaeo, saw the field with Akana leading the way to an undefeated season.
After the Saints clinched a spot in the state tournament, they were disqualified for playing an ineligible player, and had to forfeit the entire season. It was an unfortunate oversight from several years ago.
“At first it was kind of sad, but there’s no way I’d rather have it end,” Akana said, “because with all that, I still had the best season of my life with all my friends. We’re all seniors. We had about 18. Just them being there was all that mattered.”
What was the message to the kids after it all went down?”
“They cannot take away the highs that we had,” said Kip Akana. “They cannot take away the tough challenges we’ve had to endure, and they can’t take away the bond that we all shared together, and that they cannot take away from us. We accept some things in life that you don’t always get the best shakes. Life has got to go on.”
The future is bright for Bubba Akana. On Wednesday, he officially signed to play baseball at the University of Hawaii. Next season, he’ll step on the field that he grew up coming to as a fan.
“UH was really my dream school to play for. The fans bring out so much energy, and just to have that behind you makes the game easier and more laid back,” Akana said.
Next year, Dad will be watching from the stands. For him, that’s a unique view.
“Probably going to be a lot more stressful than it is right now,” Kip Akana admitted, “because when we’re on the field, we have direct contact with the kids, right. It’ll be different, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m sure I’ll find a way to enjoy it.”
Before handing him over to UH’s coaching staff, Dad and Mom had a message for Bubba.
“This is the first time I’ve heard them say they’re proud of me,” Akana said. “Last night, my dad told me he’d been waiting since I was five years old for this exact day. It’s like a tear-jerker. But I don’t want to bring out my tears. It made me feel great, and I just am glad I can do something for them. I just want to make them proud.”