HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Kealakehe’s Leuenberger appeal heard
Between the years when Urs Leuenberger ran the men's soccer league in Kona until his current work with the local AYSO, not a day passed when he didn't think about the game.
Today, he'll be thinking about soccer again, perhaps in a different way. Leuenberger will learn his status as Kealakehe coach. Leuenberger, athletic director Mike Hernandez and principal Wilfred Murakami spoke with the Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive board yesterday morning.
Hernandez and Murakami appealed to the board for leniency after a five-year suspension was imposed on Leuenberger and assistant coach Miles Nakahara.
The coaches were suspended during the boys soccer state tournament in February after Nakahara allegedly berated tournament officials for several hours. Murakami and Hernandez came to Oahu yesterday on behalf of their head coach, Leuenberger, who they said did not instigate the incident.
HHSAA executive director Keith Amemiya said the board's decision would be sent to Kealakehe in written form. He declined to announce the decision yesterday.
The only other suspension with as long a timeframe occurred a few years ago when the HHSAA disciplined then-Baldwin coach Fred Guzman for five seasons. Hernandez believes the Leuenberger's situation is different.
"I feel it's too harsh. There are different levels of discipline: a reprimand, probation, suspension or fine," Hernandez said. "Five years is too much."
The athletic director agreed that the situation could and should have been handled differently.
"People should've abstained from arguing. They should've requested a meeting to try and resolve it," he said.
Murakami, a longtime administrator at Konawaena and Kealakehe, was diplomatic.
"I commend the board of the HHSAA for allowing us to appeal. They created a way in which we had an opportunity (to speak)," he said. "The principals really looked at the broader issue of what's in the best interests."
The board is partially comprised of principals from each league.
"In these kinds of things, I defer to the governing body," Murakami said. "We're going to honor their decision."
Regardless of the decision, Leuenberger hopes the HHSAA takes a closer look at the seeding procedure that he and Kealakehe officials believe was botched before the state tourney.
"Either way, I hope something good comes out of this," he said.