Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

A parents’ perspective


NOTE: The following letter was submitted to WarriorInsider.com by the parents of one of the current members of the University of Hawai’i basketball team. They have granted permission to print the letter in full.

How do you reach through the phone to hug your child living thousands of miles away when his world has just imploded?

As a parent of a member of the UH Men’s Basketball Team, I too share the same questions, frustrations and emotions that surround the most recent events of our program. However, at the forefront, I must remember this isn’t about me; it’s about those young men who have dreamt about playing Division I basketball since they were young children and for some, like our son, dreamt about doing it in Hawaii.

When we sent our son to Hawaii two years ago, we sent with him with dreams, hopes and an expectation that he would not only represent our family name in the utmost positive light, but more importantly, represent the state and people of Hawaii who were allowing him to represent them.

In light of recent events, I ask the men and women of the great state of Hawaii to take time to truly reflect on the meaning of sports and what it has taught us about life and ourselves. At the very center of sports, we find adversity, difficulty and sometimes, disappointment. But most importantly, we have discovered that sport brings out the very best of the core values that are essential to life’s success; effective communication, perseverance, and determination.

As we enter upon the 2014-2015 season, I ask that you remember that beneath all the wins and losses, “x’s” and “o’s” are real people, with real lives, real men with real dreams. And while it is understood that every person is entitled to his/her opinion, you put that aside and rally your support around these hard working young men who want nothing more than to make YOU, the men and women of Hawaii, proud.

I have heard a variety of comments ranging from people opting to watch games from the comfort of their home, to canceling season tickets or their desire for the University to just rid itself of all sports. This season, the victory may not be measured by wins and losses, but in rather a moral victory, steeped in love and support.

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word, “Warrior” as a man engaged/ experienced in war and as it is in war, masses/troops and tactics are essential to any victory.

On November 14, 2014 and for the remainder of the 2014-2105 season, the parents of the Men’s Basketball team ask that you come out and stand with OUR warriors who go to battle on the floor everyday for the sake of making Hawaii proud.

Andy and Julia Valdes
(Let’s Go Bows!)


  1. The Valdes Ohana…man….that letter brings me to tears….ssss, man.. we love Aaron, and the whole team. We love your dedication to your sons, and enduring through trials. Aaron shows great maturity and drive. That is a a result of great upbringing.
    We love you all, much, much Aloha for you all and the team. Fans, the faithful ones, will support. We are not giving up on the team. Some may, the long time fans of UH MBB and these great student athletes, will never leave support. or diss your son , Coach Taylor or team.
    Mahalo and thankyou for sharing Aaron with The MBB family/Ohana
    Go Warriors, and Fans, let us not stay away.. let us come out in support, and darn, I hope 20 plus wins, and hoping BWC title, UH MBB just shocks the world.

    Take care, and beautiful family the Valdes family and UH MBB Ohana!!

  2. thank you for sharing…GO BOWS!

  3. Great letter by the Valdes. I myself have not given up on the team and will definitely be there to root the boys on.

    I have always been a firm believer that college athletic is for the kid and we fans support are mostly for the kids and not the coaches. I still attend every football game even though are football team is suffering thru tough times. I don’t go to basketball game to watch the coach coach. I go to watch the players perform and even without their HC, they can still perform.

    I want to challenge every basketball fan to go out and root like hell for the kids and I will. This is not the time to bail. The kids need us more than ever and we need to be the adults here and show the boys our love.

  4. I’m in!

    Thank you Valdes family for bringing some reality to this craziness. You are right we can not give up on these kids just because of the mistakes of a few.

  5. Hey FANS.. Benjy Taylor, the official, no rumor mongers, speculation. interviewed on Sports Animals a few minutes ago, a long interview.. discussed new start, did not mention any of the remaining guys expressing desire to leave. The all want to step up and prove to UH they are STILL a very good team. Show Hawaii and the ones who are naysayers, they can still be successful. Loss of some manpower, so some adjustments. Have lot of same effort and push on O and D. These guys are Still there, and meet with Benjy in his office. They are excited for season to start. No attrition mentioned. No mass exodus. No negative comments. Just Positive. UH still will play for fans the University and state of Hawaii. He did not have to come on show, however he agreed. Stayed away from other stuff. Class guy, very classy, admits he learned through trialsome time at Chicago St. made him better coach. Bobbitt and Fleming real deal athletic D and O guards step up. Whole team will step up. Benjy will step up, and is hoping to talk with Ben Jay to give approval for hiring one more assistant. He has in mind some very good ones, who will come on short notice, for the right reason. Benjy is showing great character, that is why, Ben made him acting coach, or HC for rest of season. So there you go rumor mongers, and speculation people. OFFICIAL from Benjy , team the 14, still together and want to prove, they are not a one or two man team they Are One Ohana, and will give great effort.. Today’s practice starts in few minutes, and guys are excited for season.

    man, I am pumped again.. JUST COMING FROM THE SOURCE.. the coach himself.. bet the guys, they not going to give up, the going STEP UP.. Stepteau, stepping up, Enos easy 3 ball, Zach, Zapping the other teams,. NWC official, Valdes flying high, MT the show, , Q and Nevels, leadership… Jovanovich, Janks, and Niko Serbian brothers, fighting till the end…Jawato back to bombing the 8 for 8 three ball.. Team they be ready!!

  6. THUMBS UP!!!

  7. Gooooooooo Bowwwwwssss!!!
    Thank you Valdes Ohana, Andy and Julia, that letter says soooo much more than any speculation, or negativism,.. and correct over decades, and seeing 9 or 10 head coaches, I always supported the team and UH and Hawaii and the sport. It was not the coach. Coaches are great, they help teams to develop.. great solidarity, with Benjy Taylor and the team, just BEING ONE OHANA..\

    Valdes Ohana, thankyou. must have seen our comments, and heard through grapevine, never,, never diss your children.. great ones for sacrificing to have your young ones here to play ball for UH.. Thank you. AirCuba fly high and UH MBB team just win as One Ohana, for University and Hawaii.
    Man I am stoked again.. And Sports Animals interview with GD and CH, cleared up islandman, a lot of shoots about team, they are united and ready to Rock the BWC..

    Finally I can do my smiley face again…

  8. Mahalo to the Valdes Ohana and to the rest of the UHMBB players’ Ohana! Agree with Coach Benjy that even without Fotu & Reyes, there remain enough quality players to have a good if not great season. The blessing will be that there will be more minutes available for more players, giving their “All” for the UHMBB Ohana. GO BOWS!!

    Agree with the comment (on another forum) that the decision to terminate HC Arnold & AC Akana was made at a level higher than AD Jay. Very similar to the termination of former Chancellor Tom Apple.

  9. Who decided to cut onions while I was reading this… *tear*

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks, Valdes family.

    GO BOWS!!!

  10. We fans truly feel so much aloha for Aaron and all of the players, and their families, especially wise and loving parents like the Valdes family. We will be there at all the games, starting this week, cheering the team on as we always do!

  11. Perfect sentiments. From perfect family. In the perfect forum. At the perfect time.

    The Valdes family gets it. Great Ohana!

    Go Bows!!!!

  12. To the Valdes family…..I will support this team thru out the whole season. Thanks for sharing.
    Go Bows!!!

  13. Became a new MBB season ticket holder this year. Received the tickets then a week or two later, everything goes to pot. Initial reaction was, should I ask for my money back? Was really looking forward to seeing “42” play. Was getting real buyer’s remorse, wondering how many more student athletes would leave the program?

    So, thank you Valdes Ohana for the letter. Knowing that any of the remaining guys and family remain committed to the program helps. Will be there to support your son and the team.

    Now, what to do with my afro/fotu wig?

  14. Mahalo, Andy & Julia Valdés
    (Yes As You Suggested, i learned the ‘Proper Potuguese’ spelling for The Valdés ‘Ohana)

    Mahalo for Sharing Your Heartfelt Thoughts & Concerns and for Helping US Keep Our Focus on What Matters,
    What We CAN Help With and as others Noted, Keeping It Real…

    I “WISH” The NCAA and UH Administration TRULY Did put the Student-Athletes First –
    How Could they IF they Never even bother to Ask, every athlete, every year?
    OR even just some, a sampling, sometimes?

    As Down-to-Earth and Real as i know you are just from the last two years,
    i “Need” to seriously Thank You again for Your Many Contributions
    to Our Program, from the Early Days helping Aaron to help us
    All the Way to Now where We All Really Need A Strong Healthy Shot to the Heart and Head

    Thank You for Asking & Reminding Us…
    I’m “ALL IN” and i TRUST many at this site as well
    and several Thousand Strong @ SSC …

    Aaron – i’ve said it before — You’ve Got Great Parents…
    i suspect that’s True for Many on The Team
    Because i think these are pretty Special Young Men
    With Talent And Skills, A Sense of Team, ‘OHANA and Place
    BEYOND What Most D-1 Teams will ever understand (We’ll See…)

    And i hope it helps, Our Support…
    Already Paid for Our Anaheim Tickets
    IF A Loss, So Much Less than for those IN The Program
    A Simple Act of FAITH

    GO ‘Bows!
    Make This A GREAT Season to Remember…
    Next Two Weeks…START STRONG…

  15. Fotu statement hope he clears his name..think someone jumped too fast? Man..clear names..UH?!
    Fotu’s statement read:

    “After much thought and discussions with my family, I have decided to forgo my last 2 years at UH, and pursue a professional basketball career.

    “This was not an easy decision. I came to Hawaii to play for coach Gib and coach Akana, both were instrumental in me growing as both a person and basketball player. I believe this was going to (be the) best season yet.

    “I’ve turned down opportunities to (turn) pro every summer because returning to Hawaii was an easy decision, but now, with the program headed in a different direction, I believe it?s time to chase the professional basketball dream, and hopefully help support my family.

    “In regards to my ineligibility announced last week, which by the way had no bearing on my decision, I have hired an attorney to help clear my name, if and / or when any accusations are released by the NCAA.

    “I thank all my teammates (brothers) at UH, and mostly the fans of Rainbow Warrior basketball. The people of Hawaii have welcomed me since the day I arrived, and all that aloha made my stay enjoyable. I enjoyed every minute I got to represent the University of Hawaii and I will look back at many wonderful memories.

    “Aloha ?oe, until we meet again!”

    Isaac Fotu


  16. Andy and Julia

    We fans are fortunate to have a great person in the name of Aaron Valdes who has been positive throughout this ordeal. Thank you for allowing Aaron to travel so far away from home to go to school and play basketball in Hawaii. We appreciate all the sacrifices you did for your son. We could not ask for a better player to represent Hawaii. And this goes out to all the players on this year’s team. Every single one is a class act and I’m sure will do their best to bring a winning program under coach Taylor. Mahalo

  17. Never seen or heard of as solid a group of student athletes for MBB than these 16..still band of true brothers!! And great parents who are united…hey Wednesday , ball, have fun and win , you all are winners already !
    Go Bows !!

  18. Yes,that letter puts things into perspective. And we love the attitude of Valdes and his family and players like Nevels, Thomas, Negus, Bobbitt and others who were interviewed recently.

  19. We learned that Fotu has left and for all intents back in New Zealand pursuing a pro career, while this is a big loss, we still have a team ,that will stick together come hell or high water. Now is the time for others to step up , next , as I mentioned earlier no one coach or player is greater than Our Program . We support our Warriors , we got our season tickets recently , and will donate to the booster club ,who supports our young players by feeding them after the games, we have been waiting for this season for months , I’m not going to let this stand in the way of our pursuit to a winning season, and placing high in the playoffs, no more one and done under the past regime.
    Go Warriors , It aint over, it’s just a new start ! Kick a-ss Valdes , heal up your ankle fast , heard you sprained it today.

  20. JustinLurkin

    You could use your afro wig for Zach Buscher nite.

  21. jjay …agreed we support guys here and wish one who move on the best.
    Tonganator your son is always part of UH MBB brothers..as Benjy says .family
    win or lose..we support you all
    go bows
    and UH MBB fans unite
    man PT for many work for train bound for glory
    Rainbows Go. Warrior time..
    Benjy coach and have fun great group of wiinnahs!!

  22. Very deep and heartfelt message! I am sure that Aaron is proud to have you as his parents, and I am grateful that you are part of the Rainbow Warrior Basketball Ohana.

  23. For 23 seasons I’ve been at UH basketball games cheering for the team. I look forward to being there for season 24. I’ve seen a lot of ups and down, but the thing that never changes is the pride I feel in seeing these young athletes work hard to represent not just their university but all of the people of Hawaii. And that feeling is strongest for the ones who fight their way through adversity; who grow and improve and mature not only as players but also as students and as people of character; and who get the job done in the classroom and finish their careers with diploma in hand and bright prospects for the future. Aaron is one of those shining stars, and I’ll be honored to support him and his teammates from opening night tipoff to the final festivities on Senior Night.

  24. Aloha Runbows, and all the Die hard supporters of UH MBB.

    I have just returned home from work and read this letter from the Valdes Ohana. It really hurt my heart when I begin to write this. I have been silent for the last week as we have to make a very difficult decision for Isaac. First I received a distressed call from Isaac to let us know that he has been made ineligible to play. Then a second call to say that Gib and Brandyn had been fired, and again Isaac was distressed. For sometime afterwards I tried to reason with myself and the whanau what would be best for Isaac going forward. My heart was for Hawaii especially with our aim for Isaac to finish his degree. My mind tells me different especially when I have no clear explanation for what has happened.

    When Isaac was with us during the holidays, he was harassed constantly with phone calls and e-mails both from NCAA and the establishment. Even when he was at FIBA world cup there were no let up. He was fed up but I reminded him of the important thing of achieving his degree, so he returned to Hawaii. Isaac always said he was in Hawaii for 4 years unless something significant changed.

    Reading Andy’s letter brings tears to my eyes as I fully understand as a father. We have become good friends with the Valdes Ohana and that what playing sports can do.Developing Friendships for a very long time not only Athletes but parents as well.
    Isaac has a British passport and so can have access to play in Europe.as non import player.

    Hawaii and the fans will always hold a special place in our heart, and I would like to thank you all especially the die heart fans who have supported UHMBB through good and bad times. And I echoed the request from Andy, come and support the young warriors who will continue to fight. I will continue to support and follow the team.


  25. Mahalo Thankyou to the Valdes, Thomas,Enos, Buschers, Stepteaus, Jankovichs, Jovanovich’s, Filipovichs’, Nevels, Smiths, Jawatos, Bobbitts, Flemings,Webster-Chan Ohana, the cupboard is not bare.
    Cream rises to the top. In this strife stricken world as the Valdes Ohana alluded to, either you can just hide and stop pursuing your dreams, or ovecome challenges. That these 14 young me and their super supportive families are United in helping their sons through these times.. It is as on post commented, and ESPN featured spot. Moment. I cannot remember a group of as fine student athletes, and many on this forum, at least 10-24 years, and a few more follow UH MBB through ups and downs. I mean the more I read the Valdes’ letter…the more emotional, in a good way , I become.. I mean it does bring tears to my eyes, tears of hope, tears or endurance, and the end of this season, tears of joy for a team, and students plus great Ohana, that weathered the storm.

    Cupboard not bare. And challenge for Benjy. A great one. And he will step up. Team will rise and step Up. NWC was going to wait his turn, now is his turn, and Aaron, and Garrett. . Quincy, Brandon, Brocke, Stefan and Stefan, Niko, Dyrbe, Mike, Roderick, Isaac Fleming, Zach, and all the UH MBB fans, a time to stand, and fight, and UNITE.. we are not going to let this stop us, and UH brass hear us too. They know we back team and their families.

    Go Bows. Imua Warriors!

  26. As a parent, season ticket holder and supporter of UH sports in general I say to you Andy & Julia Valdes…PRESENTE! Let’s Go Bows! I am fan of your son and very proud to have a Latino playing on our team. Abrazos!

  27. Tonganator, dear fellow UH Warrior fan and beloved father of Isaac, now you are going to make a lot of us WI die hard fans cry.. we did not know what was happening, now that Isaac has left to pursue his pro career dream, you can share. I always believe that the truth will come out. And Isaac and coaches will have their day to clear whatever the allegation is. I am not even sure, though speculation abounds. Still No letter of wrongs. Tell Isaac we so much have Aloha for him, now.. I start to cry too.. man, for this older UH fan.. it is tough.. however, his teammates , he is a brother and family, and they understand Isaac’s decision.. I don’t understand situation, UH top level, will have to explain and make things good again, You have always been supportive of Isaac, had nice things to say about long posts I have written, sorry, and the WI MBB fans and Hawaii. will miss you all, this thing will clear, all things must pass. The Team will fight on, and they will be winners, and Isaac Fotu, that special brother will always, always be in their hearts and ours… Tonganator, keep strong, we have much love for you,, mama, Ella, Daniel and the Fotu Ohana..I don’t know what to say.. hope this story comes to good conclusion. one way, team keeps on going.. Thankyou for response..

    Take care ,Tonganator and Fotu Family, we love you all. And UH will have to fix this up. And we keep on supporting the guys , their families and Team..
    Go Warriors.

  28. I never met Isaac, but from what I’ve seen and heard it seems as if I lost a brother. And it seems like he’s lived here all his life as he has blended in so well. In fact I like to think of him as the Hawaiian bro with the fro. Hope we can watch his career on tv sometimes wherever it takes him. Maybe gotta subscribe to FIBA tv to catch his games. This world is too small for the Fro to hide himself. We will find him playing on tv somewhere. NBA would be nice. Take care Isaac, Tonganator, and family. God bless.

  29. Isaac Fotu, Tonganator and ‘Ohana

    #1 – Mahalo Deepest – The Fotu Family OWNS a Place in Hawai’i Hearts

    #2 – I AM Sorry – that This University CAN (Again) Behave So Selfishly and Dis-Respectfully;
    No Matter What the Crime, Graciousness, Decorum and Professionalism Can and Should Prevail;
    I’m Sorry we could Not Provide Isaac a University Experience that could Rise and Remain Above the Fray…

    So Now In Several Directions… When We Depart Is OUR Greatest Commitment to One Another…
    Often More Difficult, Easily More Painful…
    Yet In Support of The Growth and Pursuit of What May Be Best for All Concerned
    Go, The Mighty Warrior Isaac!
    Take Our Prayers, Best Wishes, Pride and Aoha with You in Your Worldly Travels
    Conquer the World of Professional Basketball, a Wayfinder & Guiding Light like Hokule’a and Hiki Analoa
    Go! All the Mighty Warriors!

  30. Our family will be there to support the UH student athletes like we have been doing for many years. Go The Mighty Warriors!!!

  31. Always was a dream of Isaac, I think even before his arrival here in Hawaii. I remember him winning that international 3 on 3 tournament in China? It was on YouTube pre-Fro days. He was lean and mean. really skilled with great footwork. One thing, he will earn decent money in Europe. He has that outside shot, and something that Euro pros perhaps don’t have , that spin move, and counter moves for a 6’8″ very agile and athletic guy, with surprising hops when he wants to go rim level,. He is a team player, any club in Europe would want him as part of their team. Probably a lot of scouts check him out at FIBA, and go hmmmmm.. that is a prospect, plus he had chance to go against the USA squad in Spain, held his own.

    Well, wish you well Isaac, Bro with the Fro, Frotu, 42, all of those monikers fit. a very popular MBB athlete. Sort of like a JC run, ,2 years, wish you the best , and take care of your family too. One thing for the UH MBB record books, it will show, Another Bow in the Pros.. Isaac Fotu 2014-?

    Now time for Team, to listen and read Valdes Ohana letter and sentiments, and the families out there, we support you, and we know you supporting your sons and current coach.Still could be a great season, Season of character, a Season of Redemption. Top level, has to be level. Have to straighten out ..

    Go Warriors. And Isaac blowup in European and hopefully one day NBA ball, they will always mention, you had played 2 years at The University of Hawaii.

    Now I feel better. Isaac it was short but very sweet watching you,and we shall see you with New Zealand Tall Blacks too.!

  32. To the Valdes Family,

    Thank you for allowing Aaron to come out here to play ball and represent the State of Hawaii. My 7 year-old daughter had the pleasure of working with your son Aaron at a basketball camp and she has become her favorite player not because he is a great basketball player but he had the heart of the champion (and patience) working with these young kids.

    Thank you for sharing this letter with us. I plan on taking my family to as many basketball games as possible and for us to support Aaron and the rest of the boys.

    “UH Fan for life”

  33. Here’s one more. All in !! Go Bows !!
    Great team !! Great individual players !! Great families !!

    Hope Benjy can take us all the way !! Senque, how you doin’ buddy! We are counting on you a lot too !!
    Go Bows !!

    Always a lot to give thanks for.

  34. Thank you for creating this positive theme Andy! It is great to hear all the positive feedback! It would be great to keep this site dedicated to positive support for the team!

    GO BOWS!!!! GO HAWAII!!!’

  36. Aloha Mr. & Mrs. Valdes for your letter. It was the most uplifting news surrounding the team in a long time. Your son is an amazing player and definitely one of the most electrifying and energetic I’ve ever seen in a UH Warrior jersey. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your words! Will definitely be at the SSC this Thursday against HPU!

  37. Thank you to the Valdes family for the heartfelt words. It means a lot from the UH fans and WI community to hear your perspective.

    At this moment, I also want to thank Coach Benjy for allowing Dayton and WI continued access for the players, parents, fans and community to share their thoughts. Thank you to Dayton for your amazing videos, and write-ups in the midst of the craziness.
    The Schmidt Family

  38. To Andy & Julia Valdes…awesome letter that needed to be written & thanks for writing it…you can count on my support for Aaron and his Warrior “Hoops Brothers” this season. Imua & “Go ‘Bows”…Hey Sammis…get your okole back on the court…

  39. Wow… it’s now March 14, 2015 and Hawaii is on the cusp of winning the Big West title and a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Amazing. Whatever happens today… this ride was amazing.

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