Softball will be heading to Hawaii for two tournaments over spring break.
Set to play nine games, the Cougars will be competing in the Hawaii Spring Fling and the Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu. The team will play against Alabama State, University of Utah, University of Hawaii at Manoa and Niagara University.
The cost to send the softball team to Hawaii ranges from $20,000 to $25,000, according to Deputy Athletic Director Jason Coomer.
That amount is split between air fare, hotel rooms, meals and ground transportation. This year, that money came from an online fundraising initiative started last September.
The initiative is called the #HeadedtoHawaii fundraiser. Its purpose was to encourage fans and sponsors to donate money through an online donation site. The goal of the fundraiser was $25,000. Coomer said the team was able to raise nearly $30,000.
“The campaign was focused on making up the difference to be able to take the team on this trip,” Coomer said.
The softball team relies on a group of sponsors during fundraisers to contribute the bulk of the money. This group consists of former players, parents of current players and fans of the softball program on campus, according to Coomer.
“Without the help of our donors, our fans and our supporters, we would not have been in a position to send our team out to this tournament,” Coomer said.
Part of the funds come from the University of Hawaii’s guarantee money.
This is money allocated from the University of Hawaii’s own travel budget, according to` Interim Head Coach Jessica Jones.
“Their travel budget is pretty much given away for guarantee money for other schools,” Jones said.
Guarantee money can be cash, but can also be sent in the form of hotel rooms and other amenities, according to Coomer.
The team will have one day dedicated to recreation, during which time players will be learning more about Hawaiian culture, senior outfielder Alyssa Heren said.
Three of the players, freshman infielder Sammie Ofoia, sophomore infielder Alana Cobb-Adams and junior catcher Kalei Kaneshiro are originally from Hawaii so the tournament will be a return home for them.
Heren said she is most excited to play against Alabama State.
They have always been known to be a powerhouse in softball, so finally getting on the same playing field as them is a really exciting opportunity for our team,” Heren said.
Jones said the team has been training hard for the tournament and is excited to face this year’s competition.
The Hawaii Spring Fling takes place April 9-11 and the Rainbow Wahine Classic will take place April 13-15. Softball will enter the tournament with a 5-5 overall record.