After parting ways with Mike Trapasso on Tuesday, the University of Hawaii finds itself in a position it hasn’t been in since 2001: The school is now in search of a new head baseball coach.
Trapasso, who went 531-526 in 20 seasons, did not have his contract renewed after it expired following a 24-26 season in 2021.
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Coaches at the high school, college and professional levels showing immediate interest in the position. Much has changed in the last 20 years, but the intrigue surrounding the UH baseball program has not.
“One of the things I’ve discovered going to the islands and seeing games out there over the years is that they’ve got a great following,” Eric Sorenson of D1Baseball.com told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “The stadium might be a little on the old side and it might be tough to get recruits sometimes to Hawaii but one thing that’s for certain: They’re a very rabid fanbase.”
Under Trapasso’s guidance, the ‘Bows went to two NCAA regionals in the last 20 years, but haven’t been to the postseason since 2010.
A major turning point in Trapasso’s tenure was UH’s move to the Big West Conference. The Rainbow Warriors started competing in the conference in the 2013 season, and have not had a single winning season in conference play, going 86-125 against Big West foes during that time.
“When they joined the Big West, you have traditional powers like Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton which haven’t been great lately but they it’s rare that they’re not good, and then you have up and coming like UC Santa Barbara the last five years,” Sorensen said. “They’ve been one of the best teams on the West Coast, UC Irvine is coming back under Ben Orloff so you have a lot of teams, a lot of programs that are traditional winners I should say and that you know they’re gonna be good again and maybe just had a few hiccups. It’s a good conference when they joined the Big West, that was one of the best things baseball related that could happen for Hawaii baseball and that’s a good thing. Of all the non-Power Five conferences, it’s definitely one of the best, I would say one of the best, one of the two or three best non-Power Five conferences.”
When fans are welcomed back to Les Murakami Stadium for the 2022 season, they’ll be watching the next UH head coach in action for the first time. Sorensen believes whoever that coach ends up being will have a lot to work with.
“When they go to games, when they’ve been doing well, I’ve been there a couple times and they’ve been doing really well and they get really big crowds there and they’re energetic and they’re into the games and that’s kind of the first thing that jumped out to me is that they’ve got such a good following there and cheer on a winner,” Sorensen said. “They will support a winner for sure and Mike may have not been able to get it done consistently but the times I was there, when they had a good team going, they were playing against good teams and that place was rocking.
“You’ve got that and the whole draw of being at the University of Hawaii, playing in paradise essentially is a big thing that helps bring in recruits and bring in good players so there’s obviously a lot of upside to it. The facilities are a good size, they’re a little bit old but it’s big and they can fill seats a lot of times when they got a good thing going on there so there are a lot of positives to the gig.”