Keeping Score

By Cindy Luis

Monday, April 13, 1998

Wyatt made everyday
folk feel important

RUN softly and carry a big smile. That's been Jack Wyatt's style in the nearly 17 years I've known the Star-Bulletin's recreation writer.

So it's not surprising that after more than 25 years of covering everything from canoes to sailing to triathlons, Wyatt quietly retired last week. Without fanfare, to slip into the Manoa mist of his favorite running trails.

Wyatt's gift to writing, and our readers, was not in his poetry, but in his substance. He truly understood the everyday athlete, the one who decided to lose the sedentary lifestyle -- and the vices of smoking and drinking -- in the run toward better health.

It was easy for him to relate. He had done it, losing the weight while finding himself.

Wyatt morphed with the times. True to his generation, he sometimes doubted the abilities of females athletes, but once won over, he never begrudged his respect.

Wyatt tried to dissuade me from participating in the 1981 Honolulu Marathon. I had never run anything farther than a 10K, and with about 10 weeks of training, he was more concerned with my body getting injured than my pride.

Yet, he was the first to congratulate me when I crossed the finish line at Kapiolani Park. I still owe him bus fare.

It's a debt I'll never be able to repay.

I'm going to miss Wyatt. Personally for all his support and professionally for his caring about the local recreation scene.

HE accepted non-glamorous assignments and made them meaningful. No sport was too small, no athlete too young or too old that he couldn't find the room in his notebook to write about them.

Computers dazed but didn't faze him as he adapted to them as he did Title IX. All of us should age as gracefully.

I thought of the former Navy chief last Saturday when walking the course of the Ford Island 10K. It's the same distance as the first race we did together, him covering the 1981 Pepsi Women's Run in Mililani and me trying to finish.

It was a people's run -- or walk, as the case may be. Just a beautiful morning to be out, battling the wind and the shinsplits.

It also was sobering to tour the perimeter of World War II history. A majestic banyan reached out its arms to the Arizona Memorial. The rusting remains of the USS Utah stood silent duty on the West Loch side.

Somewhere between the two, the USS Missouri will be berthed, creating a thought-provoking triangle. A few dozen fortunate souls shared a soul-stirring moment when the colors where struck and the strains of the national anthem floated across Pearl Harbor.

We gazed across the channel at an invisible flag, remembering the sacrifices of the past, hopeful about the future.

And yes, to the person around the 5-mile mark, the T-shirt was worth it.

I thought of Wyatt Friday when kayaking on Kaelepulu Pond. It was windy. It was draining. It was great.

Jack was the one who encouraged me to try canoe paddling, guessing I'd find my sport. He was right.

My paddle's been drying out for the past few years. But every April, as sign-up season begins, I could always count on Wyatt to goad me into getting back on the water.

One of these days it will happen. And I'll think of Wyatt. And thank him again.

There are hundreds of paddlers, runners and everyday folk who felt like winners -- whether they finished first or not -- because he wrote about their sport.

I'll miss you, Jack. I know I'm not alone.

Keep running, keep smiling.

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

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1998 Honolulu Star-Bulletin