It all started four years ago with a promise from Matt Nadelhoffer, the men’s basketball head coach.
The culmination was a seven-day trip to Honolulu, Hawaii, for 27 people. After years of fundraising, the team spent Dec. 16 – 22 on the islands, competing in a tournament and relaxing in the warm weather.
“He said, ‘Your senior year, we’re going to Hawaii,'” senior Joe Manzo said, recalling his first year on the team and the words of Coach Nadelhoffer. “We kept reminding him so it would happen.”
When Nadelhoffer received a letter for the Surf Invitational in Honolulu last year, he knew the time had come to fulfill his promise.
“I knew I had to do it, so I called and put down the deposit,” Nadelhoffer said.
The first game on Dec. 19 was a nail-biter. In the end, Eastern rose above Montana Tech in a 90 – 88 overtime win.
The team managed this win even with their head coach absent due to an illness. Nadelhoffer believes that he suffered from food poisoning at a luau the team attended the night before. “[The sickness] was really violent for 36 hours,” Nadelhoffer said.
Assistant Coach Ryan Livingston stepped up to lead the team. “It was back and forth the whole way into overtime,” he said. “It was exciting that the whole team was into it.”
“My most memorable moment was my basket in the first game to send it into overtime,” senior Brent Williams said. “There were 3.7 seconds left in the game, and we had to go the full length of the court. It just so happened that I was able to get all the way to the rim and finish with no time left on the clock.”
The following day, Eastern took on Walsh University from North Canton, Ohio, and suffered a 98-89 loss.
“Walsh is nationally ranked,” Livingston said. “Our guys played hard but sometimes at the end of the day, you lose.”
The memories from the trip to Hawaii were not limited to the basketball court.
Williams had never been to the beach before. With a hotel less than a block from the ocean, he got his chance. “I was pretending I was on Baywatch,” he said.
Senior David Volpe was in awe of Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona, a battleship that sank in the shallow waters of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Today a memorial floats above the ship that sank with over 1,000 soldiers on board sparking the beginning of U.S. involvement in WWII.
“I was left speechless standing over the burial site,” he said. “They didn’t know they would die that day.”
Both Nadelhoffer and Livingston thought that the trip brought the team together.
“[I’ll remember] being with the guys for a week with no distractions and having fun,” Livingston said.
“Guys that I wasn’t close with before I’m now close to,” Volpe said. “[I made] memories for life.”