A look back at the Moloka’i retreat
Imagine a weekend that included an infestation of bees, hunting for wild boar and deer, fishing at a beach with 10-foot waves, sleeping on cots in a high school gym, and a tsunami scare.
Oh yeah, there were also a couple of practices thrown in the mix for the Hawai’i basketball team during its weekend retreat to Moloka’i.
“It was different, that’s how I would describe it,” junior guard Brandon Spearman said. “It was different, but it was fun at the same time.”
The Warriors spent two nights on the Friendly Isle at the end of October as part of a team-bonding trip. Head coach Gib Arnold said he purposely chose Molokai as the destination for the retreat because the Warriors are scheduled to play a regular-season game against Chaminade at Moloka’i High School on December 15.
He said getting his players to practice in “The Barn” – as Moloka’i High’s gym is called – was one of three goals for the trip.
“The second thing is I wanted them to have a cultural experience, to learn a little more about the different islands,” Arnold said. “The third thing was just to become closer as a team, to spend more time talking about stuff outside of basketball – learning about each other’s family and their upbringing.
“The three goals were accomplished and we had fun doing it as well.”
The Warriors spent a good portion of one day hunting and fishing for dinner. With assistance from some Moloka’i locals (assistant coach Brandyn Akana is from Moloka’i), the team was able to bag a couple of deer and several fish.
“The waves were really big, like 10 feet,” freshman Brandon Jawato said. “The current was so strong, most of us didn’t go out in the water.”
Fellow freshman Michael Harper said of the hunting experience: “I’ve never done anything like that before. It was pretty weird being out there in the middle of nowhere looking for deer.”
Later that evening, the team feasted on fresh fish and deer meat. “It was so good,” freshman Caleb Dressler said. “The teriyaki deer was some of the best food I’ve had in a long time. I had three or four helpings.”
Arnold proved that his coaching is not limited to basketball when he taught the team how to make “chocolate banana boats” for dessert (see video below).
In sticking with the team-bonding theme, there were no hotel rooms. The entire team slept in the wrestling room at Moloka’i High’s gym. Before they went to sleep, they each shared personal stories about themselves and their respective families.
Interestingly enough, the Warriors were on Moloka’i when the tsunami warning for the Hawaiian Islands was issued on the evening of October 27. The original plan for the team that night was to camp on the beach – which undoubtedly would have put them in harm’s way. However, an infestation of bees at the campsite forced them to cancel the plan and stay in the gym.
“Luckily enough, those bees came,” Arnold said. “Ironically enough, The Barn is an evacuation area, so quite a few people from Molokai joined us that night in the The Barn.”
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Special thanks to Jamie Smith for coordinating video highlights and photos from the trip.
For those curious, there is no footage of the actual hunting kills. Apparently, it can be quite gruesome (and thus not family appropriate). We also don’t want PETA coming after this site, or the basketball program.