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Estrella skippers Vulcan baseball team to coveted State award

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Date: Thursday, June 19, 2008
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release

Coach Joey Estrella and the University of Hawaii at Hilo baseball team has been named the 2007 Outstanding Organization for Special Olympics Hawai`i. The announcement was made during the organization’s 40th annual State Summer Games.

Estrella and his team were nominated for the coveted State honor after winning the East Hawai`i area award in December of 2007. For the past 30 years, Estrella and his teams have annually supported East Hawai`i’s Special Olympics bowling program. In addition to participating in the opening ceremonies, the players work as lane escorts, stagers, awards escorts and presenters, and scorekeepers. They also bring along the UH Hilo cheerleaders to cheer on the athletes.

“His dedication and service to the community allow us to have a bowling tournament each year for more than 80 athletes with intellectual disabilities,” said Special Olympics East Hawai`i Area Coordinator Carey Uchida. “He instills in the athletes his belief of giving back to the community you live in.”

Estrella first got involved during his senior year at UH Manoa, when he was chosen to participate in the State Summer Games as a member of the Rainbow baseball team. He assisted in East Hawai`i’s first State Bowling Tournament in 1977, the year after becoming the Vulcan’s head baseball coach, and has been involved ever since.

UH Hilo’s involvement in Special Olympics however, is not limited to the baseball team. The men’s and women’s basketball teams under the guidance of coaches Jeff Law and Daphne Honma have been instrumental in the Weinberg Regional Basketball tournament held in Hilo the past nine years. Each year, the event attracts teams from West Hawai`i, Maui and Kauai for a State qualifying tournament.

“The University of Hawai`i at Hilo has been a great partner for Special Olympics,” Uchida said. ”Their support throughout the years enables our programs to continue offering the training and competition that makes a profound impact on the lives of our athletes.”

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