By Lydia Jane Allison
Opening Coin Toss to Acknowledge Players and Coaches for Community Efforts Following Maui Wildfires
LAS VEGAS — Feb. 7, 2024 — The NFL announced today that players and coaches from the Lahainaluna High School football team from Maui, HI will serve as the honorary coin toss captains at Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas on Sunday, Feb. 11.
In August 2023, Maui was tragically affected by the worst wildfire in the state’s history, including the near-total destruction of the historic Lahaina community. The wildfires resulted in untold damage, with many of the coaches and players on the Lahainaluna High School football team losing their homes, possessions, and in some cases, loved ones.
Amidst the devastation, the resilience of the Lahainaluna High School football team emerged as a source of inspiration and rallying point for the broader community of Lahaina, Maui and Hawaii. Through the support of the local community and the school, the Lahainaluna football team was able to rally together and complete their shortened season, successfully advancing to the state’s championship high school football playoffs.
Lahainaluna High School football coaches Dean Rickard (co-head coach), Garret Tihada (associate head coach) and Bobby Watson (former head coach) will join players Morgan “Bula” Montgomery, Teva Loft, Kaulana Tihada and Kuola Watson as honorary coin toss captains at Super Bowl LVIII. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Marcus Mariota will narrate a special introductory video before members of the football team walk onto the field for the Super Bowl LVIII coin toss. Mariota is a native of Hawaii and has provided continued support for the community in the aftermath of the wildfire.
“The Lahainaluna High School football team embodies the power of football to bring people together, even in the most challenging of circumstances,” said NFL Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility, Anna Isaacson. “We are honored to have members of the Lahainaluna football team join us as coin toss captains at Super Bowl LVIII to recognize their incredible efforts in inspiring and rebuilding their community.”
The NFL remains committed to supporting the Lahaina and Maui communities as they continue their recovery. Through the NFL Foundation, the league’s philanthropic arm dedicated to improving the lives of those touched by the game of football, the NFL has provided the Lahainaluna High School football team and two other local football programs – the Lahaina Intermediate School and Lahaina Chiefs Pop Warner team – with grants to fund new equipment.
“The school would like to thank the NFL and its partners for this unimaginable opportunity and their continued support for Lahaina,” said Lahainaluna High School Principal, Richard Carosso. “We are very excited for our coaches and players to be a part of the Super Bowl and are proud of how well they represent the values and spirit of their team, the school, and the Lahaina community.”
Through additional support from USA Football and Riddell, the NFL is replacing all football equipment, including helmets, shoulder pads, girdles, jerseys and pants for the Lahainaluna High School and Lahaina Intermediate School football teams. The NFL will also be providing footballs, mouth pieces, cleats, blocking pads and tackling sleds to the Lahaina Chiefs Pop Warner team.
NFL Films is proud to bring awareness to this story of resilience and community through its recent documentary, NFL Films Presents: The Lahainaluna High School Football Team. The documentary highlights the Lahainaluna football team’s incredible journey from the tragic wildfires in August to their season-opening game. Watch the full documentary here.
For more information and to get involved in the rebuilding efforts of the Lahaina community, please visit: www.lunastrong.org.
COURTESY NFL COMMUNICATIONS