HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
Donations help Pahoa get to states
When practice began yesterday afternoon, Ikaika Marzo didn't know what to tell his players.
The third-year Pahoa coach had no answers for his team, which qualified for the Hawaii High School Athletic Association boys state volleyball tournament, but had no means to get to Oahu. Funding at the small, rural Big Island school is tight, to say the least.
"The kids were really concerned. If you looked into their faces, they looked really empty, bummed out at what the situation was," said Marzo, who had dug into his own savings to increase his team's travel fund.
"They knew that their parents would have a hard time paying for the trip. The odds of us going were slim to none," he said. "Everything is expensive now. For us country people, those kind of prices are expensive. I have a good job and we still struggle."
A few hours later, by the end of practice, Pahoa's fading dream of playing for a state championship became reality.
"The community provided some money. Then a parent whose children go to another school came through," Marzo said of the parent, a Pahoa alum. Other donations came from across the state, as far away as Kauai.
"We just made it," the coach said. "It's almost $4,000."
Pahoa (7-5) is one of four Division II teams from the Big Island to qualify for the state tourney. The Daggers had two fundraisers earlier in the year.
"We made quite a bit, but we couldn't do another fundraiser until after Thursday," he said of a key playoff victory.
Then the team went across the island to Kealakehe for another playoff match on Friday. The Daggers didn't have time for another fundraiser.
"The last resort was asking for donations," said Marzo, a 2002 Pahoa alum.
Even the HHSAA office received a number of calls from concerned fans.
"There were people from all over who asked how they could donate," said executive director Keith Amemiya, who directed the callers to Pahoa's athletic department.
Now, the Daggers will play Hana tomorrow, as scheduled, in a 6 p.m. match at Radford.
"I'd like to thank all of them," Marzo said of the Good Samaritans.
Big Island Interscholastic Federation executive director Ken Yamase understands Pahoa's plight. Five years ago, while still athletic director at Waiakea, Yamase conducted a financial summary.
"Air, hotel and ground (transportation) came out to $37,000 for one year," he said. "The cost goes up more when more teams qualify (for a state tourney). If we look at all the costs for all the schools, we're talking millions. So, the schools are left to their own means to come up with funding. The state association (HHSAA) cannot be paying for neighbor islands."