For the first time in nearly five years, Brigham Young University–Hawaii welcomed back the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to the Cannon Activities Center for back-to-back basketball tournaments. And although BYU–Hawaii didn't have a sports team participating, there were numerous ways in which students, faculty, and staff were involved in hosting such major sporting events.
Brandyn Akana, the head of sports and student activities at BYU–Hawaii, said that in the initial planning stages, it was intentional that the students be heavily involved in the tournaments. "Student participation was our goal, and I was very happy to see what they were able to accomplish," said Akana. Whether stocking towels and water coolers for the teams during practice or creating management plans in the classroom ahead of time, students gained exposure to what it's like to promote and manage an NCAA Division I tournament.
Akana also reported that tournament coaches and sponsors were impressed with the hospitality they felt on campus. Companies were so pleased with the event setup and staffing provided by BYU–Hawaii that a couple of students walked away from the tournaments with job offers. The student body also stepped in to entertain spectators during halftime shows with performances by the BYU–Hawaii Street Brand, Hip Hop Club, and Samoa Club.
First on the schedule was the Hawaii North Shore Showcase, consisting of three Division I women's basketball teams: Washington State, Troy University, and Brigham Young University (BYU). The BYU Cougars became the crowd favorite, with cheering heard throughout the arena for BYU–Hawaii's sister school. However, at the tournament's conclusion, Washington State left as champions for the women's division.
Less than a week later, the inaugural Patty Mills North Shore Classic, sponsored by Patrick Mills, Brooklyn Nets basketball guard, provided a fun atmosphere for the students and community to come together during the Thanksgiving weekend. Wrapping up the tournament on Saturday evening, the University of Hawaii Warriors beat the Texas State Bobcats, taking home the tournament trophy.
BYU–Hawaii hopes these tournaments can continue to evolve each year with more student and community involvement.