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Former athlete, editor new SID

by Chuck Cordill, assoc. Sports editor


HPU’s new Sports Information Director Yonie Espiritu has seen the action from both sides of the playing field. As an HPU women’s soccer player, Espiritu spent her time attacking opposition defenses with runs on goal or defending HPU’s goal when called into duty. As a journalist, she spent time in the press box and did her post- game interviews and articles for print, and later did the voice over script and footage editing for television sports broadcasts.

Yonie Espiritu


She plans to put to good use her unique dual perspective as HPU’s new information liaison with local and national media. “I know this position is a new challenge, but when it became available, I also knew it was something I could tackle,” said Espiritu. “I wore an HPU jersey as a player and covered games as a reporter. I know how to interact with athletes and coaches, as well as what kinds of information the media needs and can readily use. I’m really excited about this opportunity and want to hit the ground running.”

The HPU athletics department is in a period of substantial change, and Espiritu is right in the middle of it all. It began Aug. 1 when basketball legend J.D. Barnett took over the reins as the school’s new athletic director and head basketball coach. One of Barnett’s former collegiate players, Kelly Wells, just signed on as assistant A.D. and basketball coach. A former HPU cross country standout, a journalist and publisher of Athletes’ HI magazine, Christian Friis came aboard as head coach of the program for which he formerly ran. Former SID Jarnett Lono, is now directing HPU’s intramural athletics program, and Maka Clark has started as the athletics program’s new administrative assistant.

Rather than being intimidated by the transition, Espiritu sees it as a blessing. “Everyone is starting out with a fresh slate, and I feel I can come in and make immediate contributions,” she said. “I had the pleasure of working with Jarnett (Lono) before she took over intramurals, and I got a good sense of what needs to be done. She taught me a lot of what I’ll need to know, and I’m grateful for the experience she shared.”

When Barnett took over the AD position, he expressed the desire to expand the program’s profile in the community and beyond.

Assistant AD Wells also shares the vision, wanting to focus on getting the student body more active in HPU’s athletic programs. Those perspectives were key in bringing Espiritu on board.

“ We have the number one NCAA II athletics program in the state of Hawai‘i,” she said. “We have three National Championships, the pedigree, the awards. I want to play a part in helping the local community understand that HPU is part of it. We not only exist within the community, but the University actively contributes and plays a role in it. Our athletic programs are a very visible extension of that participation, and I want people to know about it.”

Espiritu majored in journalism while at HPU and served as both sports editor and associate editor for the school’s newspaper, Kalamalama. After graduation, she worked at KHON-TV and the Honolulu Advertiser. Prior to accepting the HPU offer, she was working as a section editor with Trade Publishing Company. She looks back on her years as a student, her accomplishments since then, and sees the circle completing.

“ It’s great to come back to where it all started,” she said.



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