Sailor Luau returns for 3rd year |

Sailor Luau returns for 3rd year

Luke Graham

A dancer performs at the inaugural Sailor Luau in 2012. The third annual event will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Steamboat Springs High School.

— It wasn't a full-blown laugh, but Pio Utu slightly cocked back his head and smiled.

He wouldn't say if teaching high school athletes Polynesian dance is harder than training them.

For Utu, the key phrase is teaching.

"For me, it's to get the kids into something new," he said. "They're good athletes. Polynesian dance requires good footwork. But I always tell them if they can dance in front of people, they can speak in front of people."

Utu again will put on the annual Sailor Luau, where athletes will do the traditional Polynesian dance, dinner will be served and three organizations will benefit.

The luau begins at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Steamboat Springs High School commons area. It features a dinner with Polynesian luau cuisine as well as live entertainment from students dancing in traditional Polynesian style. There also will be an auction with items from golf courses, local stores and restaurants among others.

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The cost is $20 for adults, $10 for students and free for children ages 5 and younger. Tickets are available at the high school, Eighth Street West, All That Jazz or by calling Utu at 970-846-9064.

The event serves as a fundraiser for the Pio Utu Scholarship, the Steamboat Springs High School Booster Club and the Parent Information Committee.

In the past two years, the event has raised $15,000.

"Pio so exemplifies this," said Bette Vandahl, who is helping organize the event. "He gives back more than anybody I know. This is the perfect mix of his personal example."

The booster club helps support sports and activities at the high school. The PIC raises money for things such as ACT prep testing, After Prom and clubs at the school.

Utu traditionally gives out one $1,000 scholarship and two $500 scholarships to students who fit the criteria.

The criteria is based on athletics, academics and community service. Utu said they generally have 10 students who meet the criteria, but this year they had 34.

He said with that, he hopes to offer as many as 10 scholarships.

"It's an awesome group of seniors," Utu said. "The parents of the Class of 2014 need to pat themselves on the back. It's not just academics or athletics; they're a kind group of kids."

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229, email or follow him on Twitter @LukeGraham

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