May 11—–The island of Oahu has been dubbed as Hawaii's “Gathering Place,” where the most people live and the most visitors stop. Northwestern College could be considered a second gathering place away from home, as three Oahu residents have made names for themselves on the Eagles baseball team this season.
Brothers Zach, a sophomore elementary education major, and Josh Markwith, a junior physical therapy major (both from Honolulu), along with Taylor Kauweloa, a freshman criminal justice from Kailua, have all made the transition to Minnesota weather, the accent and Scandinavian food, at least for nine months out of the year. Zach Markwith attended Northwestern as a freshman last year and Josh followed in the fall of 2010, with Kauweloa starting classes in the spring of 2011. James Markwith, Zach and Josh's dad, is a big reason why all three attended Northwestern.
Markwith, a native Hawaiian, moved his family to Iowa to plant a church in 1999 before moving back to Honolulu in 2005 to work at Calvary Chapel, where the Kauweloas attended. During his time in Iowa, James had heard from several sources about Northwestern, a solid Christian college that had a respectable athletics program. “I told Zach to apply to schools in the Midwest because the people are so nice,” said the elder Markwith. He continued, “Zach is a home body and a family guy, so I knew he would fit well in a Midwestern setting.”
After playing at a junior college in California for two years, Josh joined his brother at Northwestern. “They have the best of both worlds,” commented James. “They get to experience the people and culture in Minnesota during the school year before coming back to Hawaii in the summer. As parents of college students, it's good to know that your kids are safe and I feel very comfortable with their being [at Northwestern].
The only time the trio feels the impact of being nearly 4,000 miles from home is on their long flights home, which may or may not include a layover on the west coast. Josh quickly chimed in, saying, “Or when it's below 10 degrees outside.” James Markwith always told his sons that wherever they attended school, it was most likely going to be a ways away.
The Markwiths and Kauweloa are known to their teammates as H1, H2 and H3, referring to the variations of the Hummer vehicles that have come out, but the group wears their nicknames with pride, knowing that the three main highways on Oahu are also known H1, H2 and H3. Take away the fact that the trio hails from Hawaii and bring Northwestern's batting order to the table, which almost always features Zach, Taylor and Josh in some variation of the second, third and fourth spots on Head Coach Dave Hieb's lineup card. Their succession in the batter's box doesn't strike the three as a coincidence. “[Second] fits me best and Taylor has the speed and bat for the third hitter,” said Zach. “Josh…well, he's kind of big and carries a big bat, so he's a natural at cleanup.”
In a recent game, Hieb gave Zach, usually the starting center fielder, the nod to start on the pitcher's rubber, marking the third consecutive season that Northwestern has featured brothers at both the pitcher and catcher position. “We've never played on the same team before, so it's a lot of fun,” said Josh, who is Northwestern's starter behind the plate. “It's easiest when Zach is throwing too, because I know best what pitches to call when he's on the mound.”
Despite that all three were batting over .300 recently, the Flyin' Hawaiians, as they've become known to some, are quick to bring up their experiences together off the field. “I really enjoy our team's chemistry away from baseball,” said Josh. “The Christian aspects of life and accountability that we share are awesome.”
Noting that he looks forward to the team's annual spring break trip to Florida, Zach added, “We do more than play baseball together. We do life together.”
“You don't see that at other schools,” noted Kauweloa, who transferred to Northwestern from an NCAA Division I program.
When asked if they would host a Hawaiian luau on campus anytime soon, Josh was quick to respond. “If they can get it right, we'd do it,” he said.
What is doing it right? “Having real Hawaiian food,” mentioned Taylor. “Kalua pig, poi, squid and Spam.” Yes, Spam, the canned precooked meat made by Austin, Minn.-based Hormel Foods.
“We took Taylor to visit the Spam Museum one of the first weekends that he was here,” Zach said with a smile.
Before all three guys return to Hawaii for the summer, there's more baseball to play as the Eagles have earned a berth into this weekend's four-team Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) Tournament in Duluth, Minn., with the league's first-ever automatic qualifier into the NCAA Tournament on the line. Northwestern will begin the double elimination tournament with a game against the College of St. Scholastica, who began this week as the sixth-best team in the nation, according to D3Baseball.com. Thursday's first pitch at Wallace Wade Stadium is scheduled to be thrown at 1 p.m.