HONOLULU — Sunday wasn’t why they did what they did for decades. It meant a lot, regardless.

The University of Hawaii’s Circle of Honor induction ceremony at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel was a celebration of the impact of several people in and around UH Athletics. Among them, retired sportswriters Cindy Luis and Ann Miller were acknowledged for their trailblazing roles and lengthy careers primarily covering UH volleyball.

Miller and Luis, two standouts in a male-dominated industry, became the first print media members to be inducted into UH Athletics' version of a hall of fame.

“It really is special. It’s still sinking in and it’s really overwhelming, to be honest with you,” Luis told Spectrum News of that realization early this week.

Former UH football coach June Jones, the late UH football lineman Jim Kalili and the 2010 UH softball team were the other inductees to the 2024 class.

The induction of media members to the Circle is not unprecedented. Longtime radio broadcaster Bobby Curran (2023) and Jim Leahey (2016), “The Voice of UH Athletics,” on TV and radio were welcomed in the last handful of years. Chuck Leahey (1985) was the “Voice of the Rainbows” on the radio in the 1950s and 1960s. Rick Blangiardi (2018) was honored in part due to his role pioneering UH sports coverage as general manager at KHNL in the 1980s. KITV's Robert Kekaula (2021) called UH football on TV and radio for more than 25 years. "The General" Les Keiter (1999) was the voice of UH basketball in the 1970s and was sports director at KHON.

Miller worked at the Honolulu Advertiser and Luis at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, and both together at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. They both covered the Rainbow Wahine volleyball NCAA national championships in 1982, 1983 and 1987. Miller retired in 2014 after 34 years at the newspapers, and Luis in 2020 after 39 years. Luis wrote her own content on the UH men’s volleyball NCAA championships in 2021 and 2022, while Miller co-authored the book "Wahine Volleyball: 40 Years Coaching Hawai'i's Team” with the legendary Dave Shoji.

When the two were called upon to be recognized, there were feelings of hesitation to go with honor.

“When I first heard, I’m pretty sure Cindy and I had the same reaction – it’s not why we did the job, obviously,” Miller told Spectrum News. “A lot of people we work with have probably been there longer and done other things, maybe. How do you pick somebody out of a sports department, right? So many people doing things, some you don’t even see who are critical. So that part was a little weird.”

Yet dozens of people reached out, some before the official induction, more at Sunday’s ceremony attended by about 400 people, to let them know what they did mattered, in volleyball and in other sports as well.

2021 Circle inductee Amber Kaufman, the former volleyball and high jump standout, gave them both hugs. “She went, ‘This is so cool, I know you guys.’” Luis said.

Miller said that the impact that the job can have on others is not always felt in the moment, “especially when you have 15 minutes to write your story” on deadline.

“I think the best part was maybe all the people I’ve heard from since it happened,” Miller said. “Some I haven’t seen or even socialize with got in touch in with me to thank me, and that probably meant more to me than anything else.”

They weren’t limited to volleyball. Miller was the Advertiser’s longtime golf writer. Luis covered UH men’s basketball and in 1999 became the first female head of a sports department in Hawaii.

Longtime UH softball assistant coach Deirdre Wisneski shared a tearful moment with Miller as they recounted Miller’s coverage of Wisneski’s standout career at Waimea High.

Given the prominence and sustained quality of Wahine volleyball, that represented an outsized role in their career paths.

Luis recounted a conversation she had with UH women’s volleyball coach and former standout setter Robyn Ah Mow at Sunday’s ceremony.

“(Ah Mow) said congrats. I said, ‘you know, Coach, you have a lot to do with it. Ann will tell you the same thing, because you guys were so good, we had to be good. It made us better writers because the level of volleyball demanded that we be good. I owe you guys a lot for making me better.’”

Many of their former newspaper colleagues were on hand. Miller said she was glad that she and Luis, who were linked in so many ways through their careers, were inducted together.

When it came time to go on stage and talk, Luis spoke on both of their behalf.

“What I said to the audience was, 'We don’t do it for this (awards). We do it for you.' And it’s nice that people think we did it well enough,” Luis said.

Members of the 2024 UH Sports Circle of Honor induction class were recognized on the field at Les Murakami Stadium prior to Saturday's UH baseball game against CSUN. (Photo courtesy of Greg Yamamoto)

Note: Story has been updated to include Les Keiter among the Hawaii media members who have been inducted into the UH Sports Circle of Honor.

Brian McInnis covers the state's sports scene for Spectrum News Hawaii. He can be reached at brian.mcinnis@charter.com.