Big West welcomes the University of Hawai’i in 2012

Gilberto Manzano

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Photo Credit: Sundial File photo

Matt Stork (middle) and former Matador Jacek Ratajczak played the University of Hawaii earlier last season where they split a two-game series at the Matadome. Photo Credit: Sundial File photo

With last month’s announcement that the University of Hawaii will join the Big West Conference starting in July 2012, many issues about traveling came up, but CSUN athletics see the addition as a positive to its league.

The Warriors will depart from the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) – except for football, which will join the Mountain West Conference – and expand the current all-California league to 10 teams.

CSUN men’s basketball head coach Bobby Braswell said the move will make the Big West stronger.

“Obviously it’s a great move for them, but it’s also a great move for our conference. Hawaii brings great credibility to our conference,” Braswell said. “I think it’s a good move all the way around for our conference to get back to 10 members.”

Hawaii will participate in the following Big West sports: baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s track and field, women’s volleyball and women’s water polo.

CSUN’s women’s sports are familiar with Hawaii’s women’s programs since the Warriors’ days as a Big West member from 1984 to 1996, before joining the men in the WAC.

Northridge women’s basketball sophomore Janelle Nomura, who is a Honolulu native, was thrilled when she heard she will get the opportunity to face the Warriors again in her senior year.

The Matadors traveled to Hawaii earlier this season when they competed against the Warriors in the Jack in the Box Wahine Classic.

Nomura said it created a problem for players that have never been to Hawaii.

“I was looking forward to Hawaii because its homecoming, but other girls that have never been there were all excited that they’re going to Hawaii,” Nomura said. “We were there on business. I guess we have to get it in our minds that we’re going there to play basketball and not to go to the beach.”

Also, the Matadors had a tough time adjusting to the different time zone.

“The first game of the tournament against UH (University of Hawaii) was hard for us because of the time difference,” Nomura said. “When we go there to play Hawaii in two years we’re going to have to buckle down and mentally prepare ourselves.”

Women’s basketball head coach Jason Flowers said the team will be better mentally prepared in two years when they face the Warriors.

“We have two sophomores on the team that are from Hawaii and going over there for the first time and getting the jitters out as far as playing in front of their home crowd was probably good for them,” Flowers said. “They can go back in their senior year and enjoy the process and hopefully play well.”

Even though Hawaii is known as a vacationing spot, Flowers said most teams will be all business when traveling to that state.

The CSUN men’s volleyball team already faces Hawaii on a yearly basis, competing in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.

The Matadors have struggled against the Warriors, losing the last seven games at Hawaii. Hawaii leads the all-time series 45-14 over CSUN.

Junior setter Matt Stork, who has faced the Warriors at Hawaii, said the long trip takes a toll on the team.

“I think that traveling is tough for our team and any team. I think what happens sometimes is that we say we aren’t affected by (traveling) but in actuality we are,” Stork said.

Stork said the Matadors enjoy themselves when they travel to Hawaii, but are serious during practice and the match.

“We joke around that it’s just a free trip, but I’m pretty sure other teams think the same thing, but when it comes down to it we are all serious,” Stork said. “We have fun while we are off the court, but everyone gets serious and works hard in practice and the match.”

Stork has advice for the other CSUN sports when they face Hawaii.

“Play them just like any other team and work hard. Look to your teammates for support,” Stork said.