In the somber Aloha Stadium locker room after Lahainaluna High School had been defeated by Kamehameha-Kapalama in the 2004 Division I football state playoff semi-finals, Lunas co-head coach Garret Tihada sought to comfort his charges in saying, "Don't be sad that it's over - be glad that you're here."
Eight years later, in the wake of the Lunas' heart-wrenching 36-33 loss to Iolani in the D-II championship final during the recent Thanksgiving weekend, that simple - yet extremely poignant - message resounds again to soothe not only the Lahainaluna team, but the entire community as well.
Defeat at this highest level of interscholastic competition is indeed disappointing and difficult to get over. That twisted, empty feeling in our stomachs permeates our psyches long after the final play of the game.
But soon time heals. The screen widens and gives us the acute focus to see the big picture: the important viewpoint and the inherent value that comes with it.
For in a small village community like Lahaina, success in high school sports - not only football - brings with it a unifying effect that adds to the integrity and character of those that live here now and also to all of the Lahainaluna ohana throughout the state and back into the rich history of the school.
The Maui Interscholastic League championship runs will surely continue, and the climb to the top of the mountain will carry on to solidify the spirit and tradition of Lahainaluna.
This journey nurtures, unifies and defines our community, setting a pathway to a positive future for this generation and for those that follow.
For this, our sincere gratitude goes out to Luna football and, in particular, co-head coaches Bobby Watson and Garret Tihada, all of the varsity and junior varsity coaches, trainers, and the Lahainaluna administrative staff.
Mahalo! Malama pono - to nurture in a motherly way all that is good and righteous.