Iconic football game between women law students, alumnae set for Nov. 16

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Beverly Creamer, (808) 389-5736
Media Consultant, William S. Richardson School of Law
Posted: Nov 12, 2014

Ete Bowl action from 2013, with Bruzers in blue jerseys.
Ete Bowl action from 2013, with Bruzers in blue jerseys.

Listen up, Bruzers (aka William S. Richardson School of Law women graduates)!  The gauntlet has been thrown down.  Current women law students, known as the Etes, say they’re going to win the annual football game this year.

In fact, the Etes been practicing since the summer, even before Law School classes began, just to ensure that they’ll be victorious in the "Ete Bowl," the annual women’s flag football game that pits UH women law students against women law graduates.

The Ete Bowl is scheduled for Sunday, November 16, at 1 p.m. on the higher soccer field on Lower Campus. It’s free and open to the public.

If this leaves you perplexed, a word of explanation: Ever since the early days of William S. Richardson Law School, there has been a challenge football game involving women law students.  In those early years, when Richardson Law School was still housed in temporary buildings in the quarry, it was second-year (2L) women students against their third-year (3L) women classmates.

But over 36 years, the game has progressed to the point that it pits current women students from all three years (1L, 2L and 3L) against women graduates who are now judges, practicing attorneys, legislators and many others who hold respected positions in the community. Even many male students and alumni get involved as coaches. This year 2L Matt Tsujimura ’16 is head coach for the Etes.

“When else am I going to get an opportunity to play against a team of potential employers, mentors or judges you may one day come before in court?” asks Keani Rawlins-Fernandez ’15, who is the 3L co-captain for the Ete team.  “And if you go too easy on them, they’ll remember you and think you’re a pushover, so you can’t be too easy."

In fact, the game has become such an icon for the UH Law School that it earned an award last year – the prestigious President’s Award from the Hawaii Women Lawyers – lauding the Ete Bowl for its long-term promotion of camaraderie, support and networking among women attorneys in the community.

Indeed, the opportunity to get to know practicing attorneys – who are playing on the other side – and to create your own strong connections with fellow students and attorneys throughout the community is invaluable, say Ete players.

“When I give tours of the Law School I always tell incoming students they need to be part of Etes because it is THE networking opportunity,” says 2L co-captain Kaki Vessels ’16. Last week, for example, the Etes headed downtown to join a group of women lawyers for a social gathering to talk about practicing law.  “It’s the best networking opportunity in Law School,” maintains Vessels.

But she plays for other reasons as well.  “I’ve always played team sports. I love them and I think it’s the best way to develop leadership skills,” says Vessels, also a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. “Before I came to the Law School I found out they had a flag football team and I said to myself, ‘If I don’t get to be a captain then my law school career will not be complete!’ I love it and I love seeing law students go out and play.”

Rawlins-Fernandez feels the same way: “A lot of the student organizations are divided by interest but, with Ete Bowl, it’s everyone. It doesn’t matter what you’re interested in or where you plan to work after you graduate, it’s everybody together. I’m so glad I played all three years. I would never get the opportunity otherwise to know as many students as I do.”

And the Bruzers, graduates who come back year after year to once again enjoy the game, feel a special kinship with the younger law students. Sharon Nishi, ’86, counsel at McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon LLP, has been involved for 30 years, ever since playing during her first year in the 1980s.

In addition, Hawai‘i Supreme Court Associate Justice Sabrina McKenna ‘82 played all through Law School and has been a Bruzer at least 10 times.

“We’ve developed deep, lasting friendships a sense of trust that carries on well beyond the football field, and a network of support – a true sisterhood on and off the field of battle,” says Nishi, reminiscing about the power of the camaraderie that the Ete Bowl promotes.

“In the work field, those Bruzers may be their future employers or adverse attorneys,” says Nishi of the Etes, “but on the playing field, we are all just football players.”

Dean Avi Soifer says the game not only exemplifies the power of networking among law students and graduates but also the importance of mentorship. "Year after year, the Ete Bowl underscores how strong Richardson women law students are and how significant sisterhood can be," he said.

For more information, visit: https://www.law.hawaii.edu/