HIGH SCHOOL REPORT
Kamehameha athlete a well-rounded gamer
WITHOUT sports, Kamehameha senior Mitchell Kauweloa probably wouldn't know what to do with himself.
His whole life revolves around playing the games he loves. Whether it be knocking opposing wide receivers to the ground in football as a strong safety, pulling down tough rebounds as a forward in basketball or blasting home runs over the fence in baseball, Kauweloa's life as a high school student has been nothing but studies and sports.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound all-around athlete lettered twice in football, three times in basketball, and will complete his career in baseball as a right fielder in the next few months as he tries to help the Warriors unseat Interscholastic League of Honolulu rival Punahou as the three-time defending state champions.
Last season, the Warriors jumped out to a very slow start in league play, winning just three of their first 10 games. But after turning it around midseason, Kamehameha rebounded to knock off Punahou three consecutive times in the postseason to claim the ILH championship. However, the joy of that run quickly turned to frustration as the Buffanblu bounced back to edge Kamehameha 3-2 in extra innings in last year's state final, a game that has stayed with Kauweloa up until now.
"It's something you might want to forget about, but it's always with you," Kauweloa said. "To come so far and have beaten them so many times and then lose in the biggest game, it was heartbreaking."
Most of the 17 returnees on this year's team have had to wait until now to earn a bit of revenge from last season, but not Kauweloa. After baseball season ended, he went straight into summer league play in all three sports. He played in the Big Time basketball tournament in Las Vegas in late July, spent more than a week in Arizona for the Junior Olympics in baseball, and then finished off the summer by going to a senior retreat on the Big Island for football players.
"It was pretty hectic," Kauweloa said. "Some days I'd have three sports in one day and every other day I would have two."
Baseball is his favorite sport, but football was a main priority because it was the first season of the school year. Kauweloa played strong safety and helped lead the Warriors to an 8-3 season, including a 27-20 victory over second-ranked Punahou in the season finale.
"No matter what sport you're playing, the feelings carry over because you just want to keep winning and winning," Kauweloa said. "At the end of the day, you just don't want to lose."
Kauweloa averaged five points a game for the basketball team that finished a disappointing 7-7 and missed out on the postseason. But just a day later, Kauweloa was already out on the baseball field doing some hitting and throwing.
It seems like a strenuous schedule for a kid who is also dealing with schoolwork, college plans, and the added activities and functions that come with being a senior. As a result, he doesn't have much time to take up any other extra-curricular activities.
"Whenever I have free time I just try to take it easy and do nothing," Kauweloa said. "Sundays I just work out, but my life basically starts and ends with sports."
Instead of being worn down by the heavy schedule, Kauweloa seems at his best heading into baseball season, which he says he enjoys the most. The Warriors are a senior-laden team with lots of leaders, and while Kauweloa isn't the most outgoing personality on the team, he hopes to do his share of leading with his bat as he will be counted on to produce a lot of runs from his spot in the middle of the batting order.
"Mitch is going to be a big factor as to what happens with us this year," Kamehameha coach Vern Ramie said. "I'm confident he's going to drive in a lot of runs for us from that spot in the order."
Ramie is entering his 17th season at the helm and has seen his share of three-sport athletes during that time. The physical wear and tear of playing all year isn't as much of a concern as getting him into the right frame of mind.
"These days, these kids work out real hard and know what it takes to compete," Ramie sad. "With Mitch, when I first saw him, I saw the athleticism. You could see the potential right away, and he keeps himself in great condition."
"We went through a bit of a rough time during basketball season and it taught me to be able to flush everything away when you need to," Kauweloa added. "I know I'm ready to play baseball, it's just in baseball you need to be at ease with your mind and be in the right mental state."
That ability to stay calm and collected is an attribute that wears off on Kauweloa's teammates, including third baseman Parker McCready, who is one of Kauweloa's best friends.
"He's always doing something, but he's a good guy to be around," McCready said. "He's just a gamer. That's the best way to explain him."
It makes sense. After all, it's the games that Mitchell Kauweloa lives for.