Nearly 400 people attended Chaminade University’s 2017 Intercollegiate Athletics Gala, held on March 16 at the Ala Moana Beach Hotel. They came to celebrate the induction of Chaminade president Bro. Bernard Ploeger, S.M., Ph.D. and Chaminade alumnus and 1991 Maui Invitational MVP George Gilmore, Jr. ’04 into the 2017 Silversword Hall of Fame.
Filled with well-wishers – family, friends, colleagues, university supporters, and student-athletes– the ninth annual gala event bustled with excitement. The crowd in the Hibiscus Ballroom quietened as the two honorees prepared for their entrances. As they were separately ushered into the room, emcee Lei U ‘I Kaholokula shared with the crowd the clear impact the men had on the university and on the community at large.
George Gilmore, Jr. ’04, after earning junior college all-America honors in men’s basketball at Santé Fe Community College in Florida in 1990, followed his coach to Chaminade University. In his first game in the 1991 EA SPORTS Maui Invitational, he scored 23 points against Iowa State. He followed that with 28 points against Toledo then 33 against Loyola Marymount. He finished the 1991-92 season second in the nation in scoring with a 28.3 scoring average while earning Division II All-America honors. The following year proved to be his landmark season when he set the Maui Invitational scoring record by pouring in 93 points in the three-game tournament, earning him the tournament’s Most Valuable Player honors, one of only two Chaminade players to hold that distinction. He graduated from Chaminade in 2004. Today, the Kailua resident, in alignment with Chaminade’s mission and values, works at the Kapolei Detention Home helping to mentor at-risk youths turn their lives around.
Bro. Bernard Ploeger, S.M., Ph.D., who concludes his service as Chaminade University president on June 30, 2017, will have served Chaminade for 23 years: eight years as its president, plus the prior 15 years in other leadership capacities. He is considered the chief architect in developing and carrying out the University’s strategic plans since 2008. One of the major key levers of success in those strategic plans has been to renew Chaminade’s participation in intercollegiate athletics as a point of pride for alumni and for campus and community supporters. Ploeger has been instrumental in encouraging Chaminade’s competitive success in regional and conference sports, has helped ensure an increase in outreach in Hawaii, and has pressed for financial support in securing program facilities.
The crowd applauded loudly in a standing ovation. The processions were followed by Kaipo Leopoldino ’14 offering the Hawaiian ‘oli “He Mele No Kaminaka” (Song or Chant of Chaminade), which Leopoldino had composed when he was a Chaminade student. Chaminade regent Bro. William Campbell, S.M. delivered the invocation. Video tributes for the two men played as dinner was served. The student-athlete speaker Megan McClanahan ’18, who originates from Nebraska and plays women’s soccer at Chaminade, shared her gratitude for the sports’ program and Chaminade’s academic program, which led to her acceptance into George Washington University Medical School.
Soon it was time for the honorees to share a few words. Gilmore spoke about his hardships in his early upbringing and his gratitude at being at Chaminade. Not only did he shine athletically at the university, but he also met his wife at Chaminade. Bro. Ploeger said that he had mentioned Gilmore as a possible inductee in the past and felt honored to be inducted at the same time as Gilmore.
After each spoke, each received a traditional Native Hawaiian implement — a sword created from the bill of a swordfish and crafted by alumnus Gordon “Umi” Kai ’73. Chairman of the Board of Regents Vaughn Vasconcellos was moved to tears during his closing remarks as he spoke of Bro. Ploeger’s influence on Chaminade. Both Ploeger and Gilmore have left unique marks on the University and the community at large. Chaminade was grateful and proud.
With the strong leadership of event chair Dr. Edison H. Miyawaki, the athletics gala has raised $1.5 Million over the last nine years in support of Chaminade University’s 10-sports intercollegiate athletics program.