Hawaii football Todd Graham thankful to get back on field after COVID pause

Stephen Tsai, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser
·2 min read

Apr. 17—Two days after the Hawaii football program was cleared to resume spring training following a coronavirus-related pause, coach Todd Graham expressed gratitude the Rainbow Warriors were fortunate to not have been impacted more in the past year.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Warriors have implored strict safety protocols, such as not allowing access to the locker room, being seated widely apart in open-air meetings, undergoing regular testing, and wearing masks. The Warriors were the only Mountain West football team not to cancel or postpone a game during the 2020 season because of COVID-19 circumstances. The Warriors also completed 10 weeks of strength /conditioning training without interruption this year.

But two players tested positive on March 31, another on April 5, and five on April 6. Under instruction from the Hawaii Department of Health, the eight players and 73 teammates, as well as coaches and staff who were not vaccinated, were placed in quarantine. They were released from isolation on Tuesday night.

"I'm surprised we've not had more, " said Graham, who recalled telling his coaches "how blessed we are " during the 2020 season.

Graham said much of the credit goes to the state's overall attempts to minimize the spread.

"We've been very blessed to live here, " Graham said. "I've been surprised we haven't had more issues. I'm hoping that we get herd immunity in the near future and can move on and be able to have—I don't know if I can ever use the word 'normal' again—but I'm hoping to have something where we can utilize the resources that we have to teach and train football."

Graham said the Warriors practiced on Wednesday and Thursday in "spiders "—thick jerseys and shorts. "You can tell you had 10 days off from training, " Graham said. "A little sluggish."

Graham, who was hired in January 2020, noted the program was at "Football 101 " his first season. "Now we need to get to those 500-level courses, " Graham said. "Our spirit, the spirit of these guys ... I like these guys. I like being around them. I like coaching them. ... They don't say much. They just work. And you can coach them hard. I have to tell them 'whoa.' "

Graham said the Warriors will have weight-training sessions today "after about 12 days off from lifting. That's something we're excited about."

The NCAA allows teams 15 spring practices in a 34-day window. The 15th practice was supposed to be on April 23. To make up for the missed practices, UH's spring training will end April 29.