After eight positive COVID-19 cases put a pause on spring practice for the University of Hawaii football team, the Rainbow Warriors returned to action on Wednesday after a team-wide quarantine that lasted over a week.
Head coach Todd Graham spoke to local media on Thursday for the first time since the pause, expressing gratitude towards the team’s patience and diligence throughout the process. Graham also says he was surprised a COVID-induced pause did not take place earlier, as the ‘Bows were one of the few teams that did not have a game canceled during the 2020 college football season.
[Latest stories from Hawaii’s Sports Station — KHON2 Sports]
“The entire spring, the MO has been unbelievable maturity. Guys maturing. … These guys had a great practice today,” Graham said. “We’re progressing and advancing in our knowledge of who we are and what we’re doing.
“We’ve been very fortunate. We’ve probably had the least amount of pauses than anybody in the country. We played nine football games and probably had the least amount of cases. … It was a challenge. No question about it.”
The Rainbow Warriors were originally scheduled to end spring practice on April 23, but that date has tentatively been pushed back to April 29. If there are no additional pauses by then, the ‘Bows will have the NCAA limit of 15 spring practices.
Following the end of spring practice, spring commencement for UH-Manoa is set to take place virtually on May 15, with a handful of members of the team graduating. From there, home games on campus for the first time are right around the corner, with the ‘Bows taking on Portland State at the Clarence T.C. Ching Complex on September 4.
“I’m excited about playing on campus. I’m excited for our students. I think it’ll create a synergy that’ll totally change the atmosphere on campus,” Graham said. “I think it’ll be a very difficult place to play (for Hawaii opponents) and I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s gonna be a great venue. I know there’s a lot of challenges ahead with that but I’m looking to it and I think it gives us a great opportunity to propel our program forward and be able to get some momentum.
“Obviously, we have to be successful and win football games to do that but my focus is to transform this place and to do that, we really need a new performance center where we can teach and train and work our players out and right now obviously we need a stadium home so moving on campus and the efforts that are being made, I’m very grateful to all that’s involved in doing that, people that have worked to make that happen, I think it’s gonna be great. I think it’s gonna be awesome for our students, I think it’s gonna be a neat atmosphere and one that we can continue to grow and create something really unique.”