HONOLULU — The athletic director at the University of Hawaii is pushing for name uniformity for men’s and women’s teams, saying it’s important for marketing and branding purposes.
Ben Jay said he is leaning toward naming all university men’s intercollegiate sports teams Warriors and all women’s teams Rainbow Wahine.
“After input from our coaches, fans, student-athletes and lots of emails and phone messages, we’re working on a communication plan for that,” Jay said. “I’ve been asking since I was hired here (last December) who we are and what is most representative of the islands. Those three words, Warriors, Rainbow and Wahine, are representative of who we are.”
Jay is also concerned with uniform and apparel issues, and said he plans to address consistency in that area as well.
“Our colors are green and white,” he said.
He said an official statement on UH team names will be released within the next few days.
The biggest area of inconsistency has been among men’s sports, which have been named Rainbows, Warriors or Rainbow Warriors. The volleyball team was even known as the Men of War for a while.
Jay surveyed the department’s head coaches last week and got a mix of opinions. However, he said there was consensus that the teams share one name.
“Our coaches are on board with getting consistency,” Jay said.
Football coach Norm Chow said he has no preference but agreed the name should be consistent.
Some want the name Warriors for all teams, including the women. But there is more sentiment for Wahine.
“It’s Hawaiian, I like that part of it,” women’s volleyball coach Dave Shoji said.
The squad most affected by going to just Warriors is the baseball team, which has continued to use the name Rainbows while others have gravitated to Rainbow Warriors and Warriors.
“I agree with Ben that we need uniformity for branding purposes, not just for our fan base, but for the mainland, too,” baseball coach Mike Trapasso said.
He said most of the time when the team is on the road it gets introduced as the Hawaii Warriors.
“People from different generations will call us different things,” Jay said. “That’s fine, that’s reflective of our history. I even do it myself; I say, ‘Go ’Bows.’ We’re not looking to change that. The goal is consistency in our message.”
Former football coach June Jones was instrumental in adding black and silver to uniforms, as well as changing the football team’s name from Rainbow Warriors to Warriors in 2000. Other men’s teams were allowed to choose from among Rainbows, Warriors and Rainbow Warriors. Women’s teams could choose between Rainbow Wahine and Wahine.
That was also when the “H” logo was unveiled, replacing a rainbow logo.
UH’s football team was known as the Fighting Deans from the program’s inception in 1909. A rainbow appeared after a victory in 1923, and reporters began calling the team the Rainbows. The name spread to other sports.
Women’s basketball coach Laura Beeman said she wants to remain neutral on choosing a name, but she said it is important to be consistent and have an identifiable brand.
“It affects your recruiting,” she said.