Keeping Score

By Cindy Luis

Monday, July 28, 1997

No paddling on Ala Wai?
It just can’t be

DON'T even think about it.

Moving the canoe clubs off the Ala Wai, that is. Rumors -- particularly those surrounded by politics -- usually have some truth to them.

So NOW the executive director of the Convention Center Authority gets around to saying there are plans for a removable dock on the canal at the center. When was Alan Hayashi going to divulge this secret? When some steersman suddenly finds the ama on a collision course with a UFO (unidentified floating object)?

Eh, sorry brah. This is one idea that deserves to huli right into the canal.

Sure the canal has its negatives.

The water is a staph infection waiting to happen. Silt deposits can strand a canoe on an uncharted sandbar.

Phosphorescent jelly fish become neon warning lights during a predawn practice. And don't ask what your paddle hit on that last stroke.

But it's still a great place to paddle. The flat water is ideal for training. The makai sidewalk is perfect for coaches to run along to time a crew or correct technique. It has an outlet to the ocean for long-distance training.

For some, it's the only place to paddle. Just out of necessity

The Ala Wai is convenient. It's accessible. It's easy for youngsters to get to without bothering their parents for a ride.

It's helping to keep the state sport alive with its viability and visibility.

You think visitors are going to take pictures of shuttle boats and say, "Oh, just like we saw on 'Hawaii 5-0.' " I think not.

What of the Hawaii Canoe/Kayak Team, which has trained so many top juniors for the U.S. national team? And what of the Royal Hawaiian Rowing Challenge that is becoming a major international event?

What about the dozens of recreational paddlers, kayakers and rowers who use the canal faithfully? Where would all these folks go? To Keehi Lagoon? Wouldn't THAT be convenient!

OK. OK. Please don't call Carol Costa at the Office of Information and Complaint. And don't call Mr. Hayashi of the convention center.

But if you do, tell them if they're even thinking about taking the canal away from the paddlers, they can think again.

IT is said that the Klum Gym ceiling is painted every few years. It's amazing that it manages to peel off in the same places it did in 1994, right before the Special Events Arena opened.

That paint still has better hang time than Michael Jordan.

"It brings back so many memories," said former Wahine volleyball player Lisa Strand-Ma'a during the Pacific Rim Junior Tournament yesterday. "There's so much history here."

"Isn't it great to be back in here?" UH men's volleyball coach Mike Wilton asked. "With just a little work, this would be a really nice facility for intramurals and something like this (the Pac Rim)"

Wilton has fond memories of the place. He met his wife, Kuulei, there during a tournament. His Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo women's team ended the Wahine's 55-match home winning streak in 1989.

There is a certain ambience to Klum Gym, an intimacy that the Arena will never have.

Spectators are right on top of the action, sometimes in the middle of it if sitting on the lower bleachers. The floor is great.

Youngsters in what used to be called "Keiki Corner" got their first hands-on experience with volleyball by retrieving errant balls.

Some of the longtime boosters came by to reminisce. And to share snacks, just like in the pre-Arena days. That I miss.

It did feel like old times in one other way. And my okole wouldn't let me forget.

Cindy Luis is a Star-Bulletin sportswriter.
Her column appears weekly.

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