It’s official, the University of Hawaii Warrior football team mascot “Vili the Warrior” is not going to return as part of the program. While some may be thankful for this (many saw Vili as a joke), there is no denying he has been a huge part of Hawaii Warrior football for over a decade. It looks like he has decided to hang it up though.
Fehoko and his wife, Linda, said in a phone interview Sunday that the family decided it was time for Vili to spend his weekends watching his sons play football instead of working at UH games.
“It’s all about family now,” said Vili, who added that he looks forward to watching youngest son Braden play for Farrington High School. Linda said he will also now get to see VJ, a linebacker at Utah, play in at least two games in person this season.
Acting athletic director Rockne Freitas confirmed “The Warrior” will not do UH games this year but declined additional comment.
First-year UH head football coach Norm Chow did not comment, other than to say UH “need(s) to figure something out” regarding a mascot.
Other sources said Fehoko was asked not to return.
“They can say whatever they want,” Linda Fehoko said. “We decided last spring when the boys talked to us about it. He’s a hero to his boys, and they told us he should watch VJ and Braden while he can. We already knew what we wanted to do.”
Whatever side of the fence you were on regarding “Vili the Warrior,” you can’t help but admit that he will definitely be missed. Well, by most anyway. Often thought of as a joke (especially by the older fans) Vili has provided plenty of controversy over the years as well as entertainment.
One of the main reasons Vili got such a bad wrap was not really the issue of authenticity (we all knew this wasn’t real), but more the issue of his somewhat aggressive nature. Physical incidents (not resulting in serious injuries) with other mascots and cheerleaders in two games and Fehoko stating loudly “Houston is not welcome” in an on-field interview during the nationally televised Hawaii Bowl generated dozens of complaints.
This is something that the UH staff was always dealing with, and while Vili the Warrior will be missed, it may just have been time for him to move on. Good luck Vili.