Tokuda fond of title teams’ mutual respect
Of all the elements that vaulted Leilehua to its first state championship football season, a few of the most important may have been cerebral.
The Mules won their final six games, including a 20-16 thriller over heavily-favored Saint Louis in the state final. Coach Nolan Tokuda heard all the accolades heaped upon his team and coaching staff. Underneath the fervor, though, he accounted for the players' needs, too. At some point in the season, Tokuda and his staff decided to focus more on giving the team more opportunity to enjoy the game and absorb its lessons.
"People say we were a team of destiny, but we were a team guided by God and (by) their character. We decided to do things right, do things with class. Win graciously and be humble when we lose. Help people up because they're our bruddahs as well," he said, pointing at the final game in particular. "It was really nice that guys showed respect, both Saint Louis and our boys."
The championship game ended not only with the trophy presentation, but with a spontaneous midfield gathering of dozens of players from both teams.
"To end 2007, to see both teams with class and respect, it shows even after the game we can get together and pray together," Tokuda said.
If faith and brotherhood were signs of softness, Leilehua may have redefined that line of thinking.
"The discipline, conditioning and love, we gain an edge from that," Tokuda said. "Doing the right thing."
Koehler heads out
Castle's two-way lineman, Solomon Koehler, will play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Game. The event will be Jan. 5 in San Antonio.
Koehler, a 6-foot-2, 315-pound senior, is one of the most heavily recruited players in the state. He was also recently nominated as a candidate for the Old Spice Red Zone Player of the Year honor.
Versatile Ashley Smith of St. Francis will play for the Western Oregon softball team next season.
Smith played shortstop and outfield, but had many outstanding plays as a catcher for the Troubadours. She finished last season with a .383 batting average and 16 RBIs in 14 games.
Smith was voted to the All-ILH second team and was also an All-State honorable mention selection.
"Ashley is a very athletic and versatile player," Western Oregon coach Pam Knox said. "We can put her behind the plate or in the infield. She has a cannon for an arm, and her power at the plate is very impressive as well."
Because Lester Bryan Armory is under renovation, the Honokaa basketball teams are reliant on county facilities. That means the boys and girls varsity and JV teams are dependent on the availability of Honokaa's only Parks and Recreation gym, which has only two rims.
In addition, the gym is off limits on Mondays, when youth teams use the facility.
The problem of gym time isn't limited to Honokaa. Since the Hawaii High School Athletic Association switched the girls basketball season from the spring season to winter alongside boys basketball, coaches and administrators statewide have agonized over the lack of facilities and practice time. Coaches, both male and female, have complained about the situation, but leagues are dealing with the challenges and moving forward.
Kamehameha has already eliminated one of its intermediate teams due to lack of gym time.
Iolani keeping a balance
Raiders volleyball coach Jenic Tumaneng understands the need for offseason training, but he hasn't lost his perspective about high school athletics.
Tumaneng has coached both volleyball and basketball for years, and while he was at Farrington, a lack of club play in the offseason was always an issue. With Iolani, the situation is quite different.
"Right now with club being so competitive, parents put so much emphasis on getting better and winning. For myself, in high school, we want to keep the sport on a fun level and sometimes we forget that. No matter how a game's going, I want to get all my girls in," he said.
Iolani placed second in the Division I state championships recently and is widely accepted as next season's title favorite.
"Coaching doesn't just involve Xs and Os," Tumaneng said. "That's what makes it interesting, helping teach life skills."