Waianae High School’s football season may be over, but its field is still in heated competition.
In a USA Today poll for the best high school football stadiums in the nation, Waianae’s Raymond Torii Field — named after the school’s first principal — is currently in the semifinals against the R.R. Jones Stadium in El Paso, Texas. Raymond Torii Field was the third seed in its bracket, beating Diamond Ranch Academy Stadium (Hurricane, UT) in the first round and Jelsma Stadium (Guthrie, OK) in the quarterfinals.
“Everyone tells us that we have the best field,” said Waianae High School’s Athletic Director Kekoa Kaluhiokalani. “We’ve heard that for a long time, but to have it go on a national scale was mind boggling.”
It isn’t clear exactly how the field was nominated for the USA Today contest, but a Max Preps video that came out in September and was picked up by CBS Sports shortly after may have had something to do with it. “There’s no one talking” in the two minute video, “just pictures and video of our stadium.”
“The location is unbeatable,” Kaluhiokalani said. “You got the pacific ocean one way, and you turn the other way and you got the mountains and the valleys, and when you see the sunset — all those things make it more meaningful to the people who come to this school who actually played sports on the field, whether that’s football, soccer, track and field, or cross country.”
The scenic beauty is undeniable, and it’s easy to understand why people who aren’t from Waianae focus on it. But for people from Waianae, the field is much more than that.
“I graduated here, coached here, was born and raised in Waianae,” Kaluhiokalani said. “It’s pride. We’re being recognized for something that means a lot to a lot of people in our community. Waianae is known for football. To the teams and the players that have come to the program, are in the program now and will be coming to the program in the future, it’s about tradition. It’s about family, it’s about one team, it’s about being proud of where you come from and who you represent.
“There’s generations of kids coming up where their grandparents played in the program. In the 70s, 80s, and 90s we had a successful program, so there’s a lot of pride and a lot of proud people here.”
The pride is justified. In 2011, the home side bleachers were deemed too unsafe for visitors, and the Seariders were unable to play on their field for the duration of the season. Eight years and a new set of bleachers later, Raymond Torii Field is now considered among the four nicest stadiums in the country. With new visitor side bleachers added last year and more renovations for track and field to come, the school’s original field from 1957 stands to become even better than it already is.
“I think the El Paso stadium is remarkable. I respect and really admire what the modern stadiums are becoming. But it comes down to your perspective. Mine is that this is the best place ever. We’re really proud of our little private field out on the Waianae coast.”
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