As previously announced, Brigham Young University–Hawaii hosted the 2023 Utah Jazz training camp from October 3 to October 7. This event marked a thrilling week for BYU–Hawaii students, faculty, and leaders, offering them a unique window into the world of professional basketball.
The Utah Jazz's week commenced on October 3 when they arrived on the BYUH campus. Their arrival was warmly welcomed with "Aloha" greetings and adorned with leis from BYUH students and staff.
The presence of the team remained significant on both October 4 and 5. While players continued their rigorous training, Jim Olson, the President of the Utah Jazz, and Justin Zanik, the General Manager, engaged in Q&A sessions with students in the Heber J. Grant Building (HGB).
The Q&A sessions provided students, particularly those majoring or minoring in Business Management, with valuable insights into the backgrounds, achievements, and perspectives of these two influential figures in the professional sports world. During the sessions, Kenneth Dodson, a student, inquired about how the team perseveres in the face of significant losses on the playing field. Olson responded, "You just have to grow up. It's okay to let those losses sting. Then, after that, you pick yourself up. Play forward."
On October 5, the excitement reached its peak as the Utah Jazz took center court at BYU–Hawaii's Cannon Activities Center (CAC). The day kicked off with eager fans lining up outside the CAC doors as early as 10:45 am, eagerly anticipating the scrimmage game. The doors swung open at 11:45 am, and the atmosphere was electric. As the scrimmage got underway, the crowd's enthusiasm was palpable, with spectators cheering and showing their support as if it were an official NBA game. The event showcased the enduring passion for basketball and the strong connection between the Utah Jazz and the BYU–Hawaii community, making it a memorable day for all involved.
The scrimmage game left a lasting impression on the BYUH campus, drawing enthusiastic responses from spectators. George Gisala, a psychology major from the Philippines, expressed his excitement, saying, "Well, you know, NBA has sort of become the standard for basketball, and those people are the best of the best. To see them come here to BYU–Hawaii, and to see them play, for free even… we’re able to see the team in some sort of VIP-style, once-in-a-lifetime moment… It’s awesome."
Local resident James Bede, hailing from Mililani, Hawaii, appreciated the rarity of the occasion, stating, "It’s really cool. You don’t get to see pro teams play often, so it’s a cool opportunity.”
Stephen Hancock, a professor in the Faculty of Arts & Letters, emphasized the significance of the event for the student body, saying, "I mean, I think it’s a good experience for the students to come and see this… see something they wouldn’t normally see and it’s exciting to have a little energy and togetherness as a campus." These heartfelt remarks from attendees underscored the extraordinary nature of the day and the sense of unity and excitement it brought to the BYU–Hawaii community.
University President John S.K. Kauwe III also expressed his excitement, stating, "I'm thrilled to welcome the Utah Jazz for their fall camp, and their commitment to our community is inspiring. Seeing our Laie Skillz Academy youth receive encouragement and the Jazz front office engage with our business management students has been a highlight. Over a thousand students and community members filled the Cannon Activities Center for an electrifying scrimmage, fostering unity and camaraderie. BYU–Hawaii is honored to be part of this partnership and looks forward to more moments of inspiration and collaboration."
The Utah Jazz's week-long presence at BYU–Hawaii exemplified our university's commitment to fostering community and providing unique opportunities for growth. This event showcased the power of bringing people together in a special way, where diverse perspectives converged for exceptional experiences. It celebrated the spirit of BYU–Hawaii and its vision to be a multicultural and international campus preparing students for leadership without explicitly listing out the mission and vision statements.