New student group is a bunch of Maniacs
At the call, "Stand up! The band’s playing Hawaiʻi Five-O!" a block of green-clad Mānoa Maniacs rise as one and paddle furiously with ti leaves to the beat of the famous, if unofficial, UH theme song.
"We really get the crowd going," says Ryan Nagano with evident satisfaction. "We work with the band and the cheerleaders, and we have a lot of fun doing this. "
The Maniacs inspire camaraderie among all fans, regardless of age.
"We just try to support the athletic teams as students," says Nagano (BA in political science ’04 Mānoa), who initiated the student spirit group.
Students from any UH campus can register to be part of the Maniacs simply by purchasing season tickets for a Mānoa sport. The program started with football ($21) and women’s volleyball ($70 for 17 matches). It is expanding to men’s and women’s basketball, men’s volleyball and baseball as season tickets become available.
"Each sport has a special quality," Nagano says. "You can’t choose among all the sports here."
Still, the system lacked unity and spirit, observes co-founder Kevin Hirano, a senior expected to receive his BA in philosophy in December2004. Encouraged by the Mānoa Athletic Department to start a tradition that would instill pride in the school, Nagano, Hirano and other students founded Mānoa Maniacs. The mission statement reads, in part: "Our goal is to create an atmosphere at athletic events and on campus that is exciting, positive and energized. We hope to be the bridge that unites the student body with University of Hawaiʻi athletic teams and players. Together we will prove to be unstoppable."
The group is supported by the faculty and alumni association, Hirano adds. "We all love the university." Students come from a long week of school, ready to unwind. "It’s just all very fun. Our attitude for the rest of the weekend kind of depend on whether we win or not," he says with a laugh.
There are about 500 Maniacs. About 30 sit in the designated section at any game. They also get green shirts with the Mānoa Maniac logo, a membership card that provides discounts at RainBowTique and on Pepsi products and weekly e-newsletters. Hirano is already looking ahead.
"On the mainland, students pay a monthly fee and they can get into games for free or at a very discounted price. We’d like to be able to start something like that here."He and Nagano encourage all students to support the teams, band and cheerleaders. "We’re all students. We all pay our dues and, as such, we have to support each other equally," Hirano says. In turn, he says, athletes should support the other organizations as well.
And there’s nothing crazy about that.