By Cindy Luis
I hope you will read this in its entirety, since it addresses the 'apples and oranges' of the two events, including what Shoji thought after hearing what Nebraska had been able to do.
Since the comments got mixed in with what was going on with the scrimmage, thought we could use a thread solely dedicated to it. There seemed to be some misconceptions as to who, for lack of a better term, was in charge of the scrimmage. Nebraska's was done by the athletic department, UH's by the volleyball booster club.
The facts about Nebraska's on Saturday, a special event created by the athletic department to celebrate the opening of the newly revamped Devaney Center.
It was a Red=White scrimmage that had the varsity against its alumnae greats, including some of their Olympians and All-Americans. It was $10 for reserved seating $8 to stand. This was held in the newly revamped Devaney Center which, while it seats 13,000 for basketball, has about 8,000 for volleyball. They sold it out at 8,243, grossing around $80,000, a nice chunk of change.
They had an official commemoration (blessing if you would) of the facility and the court named for retired coach Terry Pettit. It was the first chance for fans to see the new place and likely will be the only time some of them will this season since season tickets have sold out. However, not all tickets were season tickets; there are single-match tickets left, limited to 4 per household.
It sounds like it was a very special night and the university took full advantage with its promotions. Those who care about the sport and its growth should applaud that Nebraska finally got on board by recognizing the interest in Husker volleyball, which had been limited — except for the rare occasion — to playing in the 4,000-seat Coliseum. Part of that decision was made by the volleyball program because it liked having that home-court advantage. It also made for a situation where it was a hot ticket because of the limited number.
Nebraska's move to the Big 10 likely forced the move a larger venue, where most of the Big Ten plays in big arenas.
The issue on the other thread was with Hawaii's annual scrimmage, which technically was open to only booster club members and family. (I seem to remember when there was times it was open to the public at no charge but my memory is not what it used to be).
Anyway, Wahine booster club — and how many programs even have a booster club dedicated to the sport ? — is the one that initiated having the scrimmage as part of the booster club responsibilities. It has been their tradition for a while, allows for members to get a tour of the Stan Sheriff Center, welcoming the new members, and hosting its first meal for the team of the season. The club officially organized in 1987 but loosely organized, mostly by parents of the players and former players, in the 70s. The 'closed' scrimmage is one of their perks for joining at $175 a season. This is the only place I know of where the opposing team is fed after a match (if they have not flight to catch) as well as the Wahine team fed, courtesy of the boosters.
All that being said, there were those who criticized the 'public' being shut out. Actually, there seemed to be only one person. There never seemed to be a problem with this in the past. And took the opportunity to continue the rant agains the athletic department in general, which had nothing to do with the event.
Same person took issue with 'everyone around the country, even some Big West teams' tweeting about the excitement surrounding their scrimmage.' I would question who the target audience is, the general public or their respective student bodies. Which group is more likely to follow those programs?
Randomly looking at some of the Big West attendance, CSUN averaged 435, skewed by the season-high 734 against UH. UCSB averaged 279 UH the big draw again at 451.
Having problem with finding the Beach stats but they drew around 2400 for UH.
My point being, just because one tweets about the excitement of something going to happen, doesn't mean it will be reciprocated. These are volleyball programs begging for people to come.
Although UH didn't put up a recap of the scrimmage, there was an extensive story in the Star-Advertiser, complete with a photo gallery. I feel confident in saying that no other volleyball program in the country gets the level of coverage in the paper, and now TV and radio, as do the Rainbow Wahine. Certainly there is no other blog out of a paper dedicated to the sport in general.
But to be fair to the critic, he/she had a point that UH missed an opportunity to fund raise a little by selling tickets to the scrimmage.
Shoji was interested in what Nebraska had done. He knew there had been over 7,000 there but asked me if Nebraska was 'playing anybody.' I was wrong when saying it was just themselves; didn't realize at the time it was a star-studded alumnae roster.
But we both agreed that it was a special occasion with the opening of the new Devaney Center that helped with the draw. I later told it they had about 8,200 and, as the critic challenged me to do, asked him what he thought about maybe doing something like it.
He said it was something to be considered, given the success of Nebraska's.
Since that same critic questions whether Shoji should be believed when saying some things, all I can say is, I believe him when he says he'll take a look at it.
Again, Nebraska's successful night is to be applauded. But it was a highly touted special event. It was reminiscent of the night the SSC opened in 1994. It was a sellout and there's no way everyone there came to watch UH play San Jose State. They wanted to be part of something special, the opening of the arena, as did Nebraska fans.
One last point, and I thank you for wading through this:
Nebraska has already set the bar this year. They likely will average 8,000-plus. UH has only been above 8,000 once, that in 1996.Still has led the country in attendance every year in 1994. Last season, it was 6,675.
While I try to stay objective in most things. it would be nice if Shoji's milestone season could be celebrated by keeping the attendance record in Hawaii.
Thanks, as always, for reading.