Campus Life


By Marcus Dawal Jr

February 07, 2024
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  • Photo Courtesy: HPU Athletics

    Photo Courtesy: HPU Athletics.

  • Photo Courtesy: HPU Athletics

    Photo Courtesy: HPU Athletics.

  • Photo Courtesy: HPU Athletics

    Photo Courtesy: HPU Athletics.

Photo Courtesy: HPU Athletics

Photo Courtesy: HPU Athletics.

In a remarkable feat that showcases their commitment to excellence both on and off the court, Hawaii Pacific Men's basketball has been named the runner-up for the prestigious NCAA Division II Award of Excellence which also marks their second year in a row receiving the PacWest nomination. This recognition not only highlights the outstanding athletic achievements of the university but also applauds their dedication to giving back and serving as leaders within their communities. 

In a display of true aloha, pono, and kuleana, the Hawaii Pacific Men's Basketball team has exemplified "The Shark Way" by dedicating over 70 hours to various community service initiatives. From partnering with Hoops4Hawaii to collaborating with University Avenue Baptist Church, Special Olympics Hawaii, Manoa Elementary, Ma'ema'e Elementary, and the Hawaii Bicycle League, the team has made a significant impact beyond the basketball court.

"The Shark Way" is more than just a motto; it is a guiding principle that reflects the team's dedication to excellence, both as athletes and as contributors to the community they call home. Under the leadership of their coaching staff and with the support of the university, the men's basketball team has embraced the opportunity to give back through the following meaningful service projects:

Free Clinics

The first of the two clinics unfolded at the Shark Tank, the home court of the Hawaii Pacific Men's Basketball team. The venue, known for its electric atmosphere during games, transformed into a dynamic space where young athletes gathered to absorb insights and skills from the college-level players.

The Shark Tank clinic featured a comprehensive program aimed at enhancing fundamental basketball skills. From shooting drills to defensive techniques, the aspiring players received hands-on training from the seasoned athletes. The Hawaii Pacific Men's Basketball team, led by their coaching staff, imparted not only technical expertise but also shared valuable lessons about teamwork, sportsmanship, and the dedication required to excel in the sport.

Following the success at the Shark Tank, the basketball team extended their outreach to Manoa Elementary, bringing the excitement of the game directly to the young students. The elementary school clinic was a vibrant event that captured the enthusiasm of the children, many of whom experienced the thrill of basketball in a structured and engaging environment for the first time.

At Manoa Elementary, the players from Hawaii Pacific once again showcased their commitment to community engagement by creating an inclusive and supportive atmosphere. The clinic featured interactive drills, friendly competitions, and valuable coaching tips, creating an environment that emphasized the joy of playing basketball.

Keiki Fair 

At the annual fair in Maui the team gave away over 300 bicycle helmets to attending children. The initiative aimed not only to promote physical activity but also to prioritize safety. The basketball players, aware of the importance of protective gear, took the opportunity to instill a sense of responsibility in the young participants.

The sight of children leaving the clinic with smiles on their faces and brand-new helmets was a testament to the success of the initiative. The Hawaii Pacific Men's Basketball team, through their annual youth clinic, not only nurtured a passion for basketball but also contributed to the overall well-being of the Maui community.

The athletes, coaches, and support staff expressed their gratitude for the warm welcome they received in Maui and emphasized the joy they experienced in giving back to the community that has endured so much. 

Shark Bites

n a heartwarming initiative that transcends the basketball court, the Hawaii Pacific Men's Basketball team has launched the "Shark Bites Mentorship Program," forging meaningful connections with students from two Manoa elementary schools. This innovative program sees the athletes visiting the schools once a month, engaging in a range of activities, from giving talks on healthy living to creating arts and crafts, reading stories, and playing games with the students.

The "Shark Bites Mentorship Program" represents a commitment by the men's basketball team to make a positive impact in the lives of young learners. By partnering with Manoa Elementary and Noelani Elementary, the players aim to inspire and mentor students, imparting valuable life lessons while fostering a sense of community and camaraderie.

One of the central themes of the program is promoting healthy living. Athletes from Hawaii Pacific share their insights into maintaining an active lifestyle, making nutritious choices, and the importance of physical well-being. These discussions provide students with practical tips and encouragement to adopt healthy habits from an early age.

Arts and crafts sessions form a creative and interactive aspect of the program, allowing the basketball players and students to collaborate on imaginative projects. This not only cultivates the students' artistic talents but also strengthens the bond between the athletes and the young minds they mentor. The shared experiences create a positive environment where learning extends beyond traditional boundaries.

Reading sessions are a key component of the mentorship program, fostering a love for literature and education. Hawaii Pacific athletes engage in storytelling, encouraging students to explore the world of books and imagination. The impact of these sessions extends beyond literacy, instilling a passion for learning and curiosity.

Games and recreational activities bring an element of fun and camaraderie to the mentorship program. Through friendly competition and team-building games, the athletes and students build connections that go beyond the mentor-student relationship. These moments of play contribute to a positive and supportive atmosphere within the school community.

The "Shark Bites Mentorship Program" has received enthusiastic support from both the participating elementary schools and the Hawaii Pacific University community. The basketball players express their gratitude for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young students, emphasizing the reciprocal nature of the mentorship program, where both mentors and mentees learn from each other.


In a powerful demonstration of solidarity and compassion, the Hawaii Pacific Men's Basketball team orchestrated a remarkable fundraising initiative, the #MauiStrong T-shirt and Wristband campaign. Partnering with various teams on campus, the athletes successfully generated nearly $10,000 in funds for charities dedicated to aiding those affected by the devastating fires in Maui. Going above and beyond, the team also organized the packing of shipping containers with donated materials, including essential supplies and clothing, destined for families in Lahaina.

The #MauiStrong initiative emerged as a heartfelt response to the wildfires that ravaged parts of Maui, leaving communities grappling with loss and hardship. The Hawaii Pacific Men's Basketball team, driven by a sense of duty to their island community, devised a multifaceted approach to provide both financial assistance and essential resources to those in need.

The centerpiece of the fundraising campaign was the creation and sale of #MauiStrong T-shirts and wristbands. Sporting a design that reflected resilience and unity, these items quickly became symbols of hope and support. The collaboration with other teams on campus not only amplified the reach of the campaign but also fostered a sense of community-wide commitment to the cause.

Through the collective efforts of the athletes, coaches, and the entire university community, the #MauiStrong campaign raised nearly $10,000 in funds. The financial contributions were channeled towards reputable charities actively involved in wildfire relief efforts in Maui. This substantial sum served as a testament to the generosity and compassion of the Hawaii Pacific University community.

But the team didn't stop there. Recognizing the immediate needs of families in Lahaina, the basketball players organized the packing of shipping containers with donated materials. Essential supplies and clothing were collected, sorted, and packed with care, reflecting the team's commitment to making a tangible impact on the lives of those affected by the fires.

The outreach to Lahaina exemplified the team's understanding of the broader role they could play in times of crisis. By mobilizing resources and collaborating with the community, the Hawaii Pacific Men's Basketball team transformed the #MauiStrong campaign into a beacon of hope, reaching beyond the basketball court to provide meaningful support to those facing adversity.

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