Insight, News, and Opinion by Nick Abramo
  • March 3, 2021
No Surprise: Wrestling Sponsor Texaco Steps To The Plate And Gives To HHSAA

Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive director Chris Chun was ready to claw for money if he had to.

At least one local company is making that scenario less likely. Island Energy Services — the exclusive licensee of the Texaco brand in Hawaii — will continue to support the HHSAA monetarily.

Texaco is the annual sponsor of the Hawaii high school wrestling
state championships. Texaco, which is licensed locally by
Island Energy Services, is still giving to the HHSAA
despite no tournament being held in 2021 due to COVID-19.

“Words cannot express our gratitude of our community partners who continue to support high school athletics regardless of sporting events being cancelled,” Chun said. “This pandemic is only temporary, but as soon as it is deemed safe and we get the green light to proceed, we intend to go full-speed with our activities.”

Island Energy Services is the official sponsor of the Texaco Wrestling State Championships, which will not happen in 2021 due to COVID-19.


Author’s notes:

>> It’s not surprising to me that the Hawaii wrestling sponsor stepped to the plate financially and I’m sure other big companies who sponsor state tournaments will follow in these trying times. The Hawaii wrestling community is tight-knit and strong and larger in numbers than most people realize. As a matter of fact, when I was a high school sports reporter at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, football was the No. 1-read sport by far. But wrestling, by far, was No. 2 — ahead of basketball and baseball and volleyball and all others.

>> In the early 1980s, while covering the Joe Lazaro Celebrity Golf Tournament at Marlboro Country Club in my Massachusetts home town, Bob Hope was the big draw almost annually. One year, Hope was surrounded by a group of fans on the par-5 eighth fairway. As a newbie reporter in that huddle, I wanted to ask him a question, and so I did. And all I could come up with was: “Is that Texaco in your golf cart?” I thought it was funny because Hope was the face of the Texaco advertising campaign way back. I thought I would get at least a smile. But, instead, he stared me down. Silence for what seemed like an eternity but was probably only five seconds. Not funny, I guess, so I stuck with my day job.

In a recent TV interview with KITV-4’s Brenton Awa, Chun talked about the HHSAA’s loss of revenue due to canceled sports.

“Most of our sponsorships come from generous businesses in the community and they are hurting, too, so it’s been difficult,” Chun told Awa. “We’re trying to cut costs where we can. It’s been difficult all around, not only the public schools, but it’s also our organization and I think the leagues (OIA, ILH, BIIF, KIF, MIL) as well.

Aside from sponsorships, the HHSAA develops its fund from revenue made on the state tournaments and dues from member schools.

With the Texaco banner in the background, Lahainaluna’s Nanea Estrella won
her fourth state championship
 last March, just before sports began getting
canceled due to COVID-19 safety concerns. Image credit: Maui News.

“We have reserves that we’re using,” Chun said on the TV interview. “It’s been a well-run organization since before I got here, and since I got here we’ve been able to maintain that. We have enough to run state tournaments. … Even if we run state tournaments, it’s probably going to be without fans, so we’re probably going to take a huge hit. The main thing is getting the kids back out there. If we have to take a hit, we’ll take the hit. If we have to borrow money, scratch, we’ll do it. Sponsors always step up. I’m not concerned about that. It is going to be a significant issue to play without fans.”

And his words were prophetic, with Island Energy Services and its Texaco brand pledging their help just a few days later.

“The HHSAA plays a critical role in the development of many local youth and the greater community in general,” said Albert Chee, an Island Energy Services vice president. “Island Energy is committed to assisting HHSAA achieve its goals to enable opportunities for Hawaii’s student-athletes and potential future leaders. We are proud of our long-standing relationship supporting this worthwhile organization and look forward to the HHSAA restarting activities when deemed safe to do so.”

Island Energy Services
Vice President Albert Chee.

As it stands now, COVID-19 has taken one full year of sports away from Hawaii high schools — the spring and fall seasons of 2020 and the winter season of 2020-21.

The plan moving forward, if it is deemed safe to do so, is for all five Hawaii high school leagues to run a March to May spring season in 2021, followed by HHSAA-run state championships in baseball, golf, judo, softball, tennis, track and field, water polo and boys volleyball.

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