By Jason Kaneshiro
It wasn’t quite the island greeting Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo and offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper envisioned.
Navy landed in Honolulu this afternoon and held an hour-long practice at Aloha Stadium with a driving rain blowing through Halawa.
“We had our practice on Tuesday (in Annapolis) and it was storming like this,” Niumatalolo said, “but it was a little colder.”
Still, the weather did little to dampen the mood as Niumatalolo and Jasper, both former Hawaii quarterbacks, returned to the stadium with the Midshipmen.
Niumatalolo graduated from Radford, a short stroll up Salt Lake Boulevard, and played and coached at UH in the late 1980s and early ’90s. He last visited as an assistant at UNLV in 2001, but his memories of Aloha Stadium stretch much farther.
“I can remember being above the dugout trying to get Mike Stennis’ chin strap, Bernard Quarles,” Niumatalolo recalled. “I can remember talking to Archie Griffin when he sat in the dugout when he came for the Hula Bowl. There’s so many great memories here. I’m humbled to be a head coach at a great place and to come back to your home, and play in a stadium with great memories, I know it’s going to be a special time for our program and our team.”
Along with game preparations, the Midshipmen are scheduled to visit Pearl Harbor tomorrow.
The trip is also a homecoming for five Navy players: Matt Shibata (Mid-Pacific), Bruce Andrews (Kalaheo), Aaron Santiago and Cyril Ontai (Kapolei), and Kahikolu Pescaia (Kamehameha).
“Every since I came to Navy I knew we were coming here this year,” said Andrews, a sophomore receiver. “It’s a dream to come back to play against UH, it’s coming true and it’s exciting.”