HIGH SCHOOL REPORT
PAUL HONDA / PHONDA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Iolani football and basketball player Jon Takamura took some time off from teaching his class to ham it up with students Paul and Abigail Worthley.
That's the spirit
Coach Look calls Takamura "a model Iolani student-athlete"
THERE'S AN OLD CLICHÉ about why people have two ears and one mouth.
Better to do more listening and less talking. For Jon Takamura, the old saying is about more than intake of information in the middle of an advanced placement class at Iolani. And it's much more than a matter of being his sometimes-quiet self.
Juggling school, hours worth of homework, afternoon practices in two sports, dance class and a social life isn't the easiest daily routine. But Takamura, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior, doesn't just survive the hurdles from morning to night. He thrives in the challenge.
The results speak loudly for the modest linebacker: academic qualification for a host of schools, including Ivy League colleges; a first-team selection to the All-Interscholastic League of Honolulu football squad; a Division II state football crown; a role in Iolani's last two state basketball titles.
"He's worked hard. His peers gravitate toward him," Iolani athletic director Carl Schroers said. "He's the type of kid who'll make the play in a clutch situation and take care of his job."
What Takamura also has in abundance is something that doesn't come with trophies. Takamura has gently harvested the ability to be a friend to many.
The average class at Iolani requires 45 minutes of study each day. Multiply that by six courses, and the task is consuming. Add football practices, weight-room workouts and everything else in a normal weekday, and Takamura could easily do the couch-potato routine on Sundays. Instead, he's up early.
By 8:25 a.m., it's time to call teammate and classmate Eddie Huang. They have to meet in 35 minutes. First, Takamura calls Huang's cell phone. Huang never picks up this early. Then it's the house phone.
HUANG'S MOTHER USUALLY answers. She likes what her son and Takamura do on Sundays. Always the good mom, she softly puts the phone down, walks to her son's room, and hollers at her sleepy son.
"I don't worry about it after that," Takamura said.
By 9 a.m., they are at Farrington High School, prepared to teach Sunday school to second and third graders in New Hope Christian Fellowship's keiki program. The second and third graders, naturally, take a little time to settle down. Two hours later, a minor miracle has occurred. The lesson, from the Book of Acts, Chapter 13, has sunk in.
"We learned about Paul ... and Barnabas," said 7-year-old Abigail Worthley.
Her brother, aptly named Paul, found entertainment value in class.
"It was fun. It was about listening to God," said Paul, 8. "They were funny."
Takamura sees himself in the restless pupils.
"I was one of those naughty little boys. My teacher was Aunty Anne (Young), and she kept the class exciting," he said.
Takamura's parents, Eric and Grace, always brought Jon and oldest son Mark to church. That, however, was no guarantee that one of them would want to spend Sunday in a classroom.
"My friends sort of got into teaching a year and a half ago. I didn't know if it was God's calling for me yet. I was kind of questioning it," Takamura said. "But as time passed, I felt God calling me more and more."
By 1 p.m., there are bibles to load and boxes to fill as he talks about the simple joy of teaching. "I thought I didn't have enough time, going to school and having a lot of homework. I tend to procrastinate, so Sunday is when I catch up," he said. "But a couple of messages from Pastor Wayne (Cordeiro) and Pastor Elwin (Ahu) about pruning your life showed me I wasn't making enough time for God."
That meant dropping NCAA Football 2005, his favorite video game, and TV watching. "Smallville" can always wait.
ACCEPTING THE SPOTLIGHT for a feature story wasn't easy, but Takamura enjoys talking about his mentors.
"It's the people around me that push me and motivate me," he said, noting football coaches Wendell Look and Gary Kaneshiro, strength coach Dominic Ahuna and basketball coach Mark Mugiishi.
"With Coach Look, he relates discipline to everything. We run everywhere on the field. We never walk. Always keep your chin strap on. The little things add up to big things," Takamura said.
"Coach Doc (Mugiishi), everyone has a role. We all have to contribute what the team needs from us to be successful," he said.
Takamura was a skinny, gangly kid before high school.
"Coach Ahuna taught me that if you work hard, you'll have no regrets," he said. "It's all heart."
Kaneshiro, his position coach in football, instilled the mental approach.
"Toughness and tenacity. His drills, the whole mentality we have at practice as linebackers is to annihilate people, but under control," Takamura said.
Mugiishi's teams have won four state titles in a row, relying extensively on players with high hoops IQs.
"Jon is the consummate role player. He'll bring to the table whatever is needed," the coach said. "Jon would be perfectly happy to be in a game and do his role for 32 minutes."
LOOK GIVES Takamura the ultimate kudo.
"He's a 4.3 student, just an overall great kid. He's a very humble kid," Look said. "He's a model Iolani student-athlete."
Takamura is loathe to talk about his achievements. Instead, he points to girlfriend Megan Chock and her 5.0 grade-point average.
"She helps me remember school is important," he said.
Soon, Takamura will be a graduate en route to a college on the mainland. He will remember listening to a higher call. He'll remember his Sunday school kids. He'll think of Paul and Barnabas.
"They had willing hearts to do what God asked them to do," Takamura said. "They started out in their church, but God called them to leave and go teach the Gentiles.
"So they went."