Forest Grove to Hawaii: Homecoming of sorts for Pacific Universi - KPTV - FOX 12

Forest Grove to Hawaii: Homecoming of sorts for Pacific University

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Pacific University may be 0 and 2, but the Boxers have what will feel like a bowl game on the horizon.

Twenty of their 26 Hawaiian-born and raised student-athletes will return home from Forest Grove, becoming the first NCAA Division III school to play on "the rock."

"The university is really focused on helping kids get off 'the rock', you know, Hawaii … getting them away to mature a little bit faster and do big things in this world," said Pacific linebacker Trey Kodama. 

Pacific head coach Keith Buckley said, "Really since the inception of the football program we have looked at trying to get over to Hawaii as a true celebration of our relationship with the Hawaiian Islands and Pacific University which is well over seven decades strong." 

Buckley has been at the controls since the rebirth of the program in 2010. 

"The opportunity for us to play at a school dedicated to the education of students of Hawaiian descent at Kamehameha is a really kind of neat thing, especially for some of our guys who went through Kamehameha schools," he said. 

"I haven't played there since my junior year of high school," said Kodama. 

Nearly 20 percent of Pacific University’s undergraduate enrollment hails from Hawaii, and the Boxers annually have the second highest number of football players on the roster, second to only the University of Hawaii. 

"Any kid leaving Hawaii wonders if they'll ever get a chance to play there again,” said Buckley. “For them, this is something very unique and exceptional for them to have as part of their collegiate experience." 

"Trying to be a part of something special, and this is just another avenue of creating something special here at Pacific," said PJ Minaya, Pacific’s wide receivers coach. 

He was also their first quarterback with the return of football six years ago. 

"Most of us from Hawaii, going to the mainland, probably never get to play a game in Hawaii again," Minaya said. "If I was playing, I would want to give it my all and give it my best."

Saturday will be Pacific's home game, only away, against California's Occidental College in front of the more than 1,500 active alumni on the islands.

"Are you going to be a hardline coach or give them some breaks and hit the beach?" asked Fox 12's Nick Krupke. 

Buckley answered, "There will be a little bit of time Sunday before we head to the airport for them to jump in the water and do the Hawaii thing a little bit, but this is about football." 

The governor of Hawaii and mayor of Honolulu have proclaimed this week to be Pacific University Week, where a golf event fundraiser and board of trustees meeting is in the cards as well for the Boxers. 

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