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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2004-11-03

Leading Off: The Aloha Spirit
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Courtesy of Jo Jo's Shaved Ice

Photo by Courtesy of Jo Jo's Shaved Ice

Robert Hanashiro and sports writer Sal Ruibal in front of Jo Jo's Shaved Ice in Kauai.
What is the Aloha Spirit?

Most of us think it's that corny line we use when we talk about Hawaii, kind of like Jack Lord's McGarrett character in TV's "Hawaii Five-O" signing off just before a commercial.

I must also admit to using the word "Aloha" as a simple greeting. But after a recent trip to Hawaii on assignment (yes the Assignment Editor Gods were kind to me last week!) and a little reflection, "Aloha" has a deeper, more spiritual meaning.

When we started the Sports Shooter Workshop & Luau four years ago, we incorporated "Luau" in the name because we wanted to convey a sense of fun. But in the following years, I have learned that the Hawaiian spirit has become an important part of this event and a part of me as well.

Sometimes I lose sight of why I started Sports Shooter and the Workshop & Luau and my recent trip to the islands helped me rediscover that thing that sometimes gets buried under the stress and strain of balancing a demanding job, a family life and my Sports Shooter calling.

That thing is the Aloha Spirit.

The Aloha Spirit isn't something that I can adequately describe in words, it's more of a feeling and a sense of being and self-worth. The people that live in Hawaii are born with this spirit and while many of us mainlanders may call it laid-back or fun-loving, I think we're wrong in that simplistic assumption.

The Aloha Spirit comes from Hawaiians' genuine belief that we are all the same, that we are all family. One community. What else explains why everyone is your "Auntie" or "Uncle" in Hawaii?

Helping and caring is something I think that is also a huge part of this Spirit and I think that's where this relates to Sports Shooter and our Workshop & Luau.

When I started this madness 6 years ago nobody could have predicted that Sports Shooter could grow into what it is today ... a living,. breathing photographic community.

I think because of this fast growth that I may sometime lose sight of my Aloha Spirit and with the hectic days leading up to this year's Luau, a trip away from home for a week ... even to Hawaii ... could have been difficult.

But it was THE best thing I could have done.

The Sport Shooter Workshop & Luau could not be held without the Aloha Spirit of many, many , many of my friends and colleagues. Lots have been made about my late-night nocturnal work on The Luau, but there are many others that have put in a lot of hard work and time into making this a COOL event.

From Joe Gosen working on the program while jetting across the country for the 4 - Initial - Organization's Flying Short Course, to Dan MacMedan and Darrell Miho's efforts in making their breakouts the coolest ever to Darren Carroll stepping in to pinch hit in the business practices classes, to Jack Gruber pulling double duty to Arnie Mar's care in sorting and printing out the reg data to Alan Greth and Kevin Sullivan agonizing over how to make the portfolio reviews run smoothly to my bosses at USA TODAY putting up with me spending my off time on The Luau ... it is all done because of this Aloha Spirit.

But the people with the biggest heart and biggest spirit are my wife Deanna and daughter Emma and my best friend Ron Taniwaki. Their Aloha Spirit and patience with me is the biggest reason we have this event this weekend.

My trip to Hawaii didn't just involve working on a project, plate lunches, walks on the beach at sunset, eating shaved ice and trips to Hilo Hatties. Meeting and working with so many people on Oahu and Kauai helped me rediscover my misdirected Aloha Spirit and refocus me on why I began Sports Shooter: Photographers helping photographers.

So thanks Eugene Tanner, George Lee, Jay Metzger, Keith Amemiya, Blane Gaison, Joe Whitford, "Aunite" Pualani Jones, Sal Ruibal, the players on the Kuhuku, Kamehameha and Waimea High football teams ... and everyone else that helped me rediscover my "Aloha Spirit".

MAHALO!

* * *

We are just a few days away from THE coolest photography event of the year and this quick issue of the Sports Shooter Newsletter spotlights some of the faculty and classes being held this year in Redondo Beach.

If you can't make it to this year's Workshop & Luau I hope that this small glimpse of what will be going on this weekend in Redondo Beach will give you a little of that Aloha Spirit. Don't worry, as the Governor of California says "I'll be back."

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