Coach, student bring aloha spirit to UTA

Junior pitcher Ka’ikepono Anderson heaves a fastball to home plate March 31, 2018 at Clay Gould Ballpark. Anderson was born and raised in Pearl City, Hawaii. 

Howzit brah?

No, that’s not a typo.

That’s just how they say ‘howdy’ in Hawaii.

The same island that softball head coach Peejay Brun and baseball junior Ka’ikepono Anderson are from.

“It’s a Hawaiian form of Ebonics,” Brun said. “It started when you had immigrants from different countries trying to speak English. It sounds like broken English with different cultures.”

Hawaii, known for its beaches, exotic wild life and volcanoes, has one more claim to fame — Spam.

Yes, Spam. The canned pork meat developed by Hormel Foods.

“I grew up on Spam, everyone loves Spam,” Anderson said. “It’s something cheap and easy to whip up, so everyone loves it. My mom will send a care package with Spam even though they have it here.”

Brun said there is one Spam dish she enjoys.

“There’s this thing called Spam musubi,” Brun said. “It’s rice, Spam and seaweed wrapped around it. It’s a little snack we can throw up. I’ll still eat that here, when I get a little itch of the local food.”

Fueled by a diet heavy on Spam, Anderson helped his high school win the state championship in 2014.

After high school, he played at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, where the weather was different from Hawaii’s.

“The heat was crazy. I wasn’t sure if I could handle it,” Anderson said. “My parents talked me through it, made sure everything was good for my education and baseball career.”

The heat as well as the time zone difference were two things that both Brun and Anderson had to adjust to.

Hawaii is five hours behind the central standard time used in Texas.

Brun recently had a 9 a.m. start for a game and her sister, who watches all her games, woke up at 4 a.m. to watch it online.

“The things that are kind of funny are TV shows that are broadcast on the mainland way before it does in Hawaii,” Brun said. “It wasn’t a problem growing up, but nowadays with social media, they are talking about it before the show even airs in Hawaii.”

Now that Brun is a mainlander, she has to be careful what she talks about when she calls home.

“With my family, I like watching “The Voice” or “American Idol,” Brun said. “They don’t want me calling them up to talk about the show. They won’t be able to watch it until five hours later.”

Early on, Brun’s family steered her away from a traditional pastime of Hawaii, surfing.

“My parents wouldn’t allow me to surf,” Brun said. “The big reason: I was an ocean baby. Within the first couple weeks of my birth, my mom had me at the beach. She was afraid that if I got into surfing I would quit all my land sports and really just become a beach bum.”

The land sport Brun gravitated toward was softball. She played for four years at the University of Hawaii and even won the NCAA Woman of the Year for the state of Hawaii in 1994.

Hard work, family, a team-first attitude and a side of Spam are the ingredients that brought these two islanders to Arlington.

“Growing up in Hawaii was great,” Anderson said. “The competition there is really high, especially in baseball and football. It’s a great atmosphere growing up. Glad to bring the aloha spirit to Texas.”

@scoopsestrada

sports-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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