ILH program boosts morale of community


POSTED: Wednesday, March 04, 2009

This school year will be defined as the year Hawaiian Mission Academy joined the Interscholastic League of Honolulu. For students, parents and teachers, the program has had a positive impact.

With membership came some challenges: insurance payment, membership fees, athletic department expenses and scheduling the gym for league games, even those not involving HMA. However, the benefits more than made up for those challenges: teams learning and displaying good sportsmanship, players taking their studies more seriously, and the raising of school spirit as the school and the community attended games as fans and supporters.

Coaches Nelson Katada and Clayton Chan, fathers of two of the players on the boys basketball varsity Division II team, coached tirelessly. At every game Katada, Chan, their wives and other supporters provided fried noodles, baked goodies and snacks to earn money to support the athletic program.

“;It is worth it, putting in all of the work that we do. Anything for the kids,”; Katada said. “;Just to see our boys get a chance to play is reward enough for us.”;

Coaches Schoen Safotu and Mark Kinimaka have also sacrificed a lot of time to coach the boys basketball varsity Division II team. Both the girls' and guys' teams have learned a lot.

“;We learn good sportsmanship, fair play and respect,”; said sophomore Lady Knight Melissa Mishima.

Principal Manuel Rodriguez concurs. “;Many other coaches and people from other schools and the community have commented on the exemplary sportsmanship of the players themselves,”; Rodriguez said.

“;We continue to grow as we play, and we always remember to pray before each game,”; said Knight Jake Chan. “;We give God the credit whenever we win and aspire to do better when we lose.”;

Academically, some players are getting more serious about homework, even improving in classes because they need to maintain acceptable grades. Teacher Cindy Nylen said athletes have learned that grades as well as sportsmanship are important. She also said the Knights have learned that “;it is not whether you win, but rather how you play the game that is important.”;

“;Being in the ILH has made our school more supportive of the teams, and enthusiasm and school spirit have increased a lot,”; said senior Caitie Schwarz. “;When we root for the Knights, we get caught up in the excitement of the game and go crazy over every point the team scores.”;

Being in the ILH has also brought HMA to the public's attention through the fans who come to the games. In addition, two newspaper articles featuring the HMA boys basketball team gave HMA some free publicity it would not have received otherwise.

The boys ILH JV/intermediate basketball team enabled seventh- and eighth-graders from Windward Adventist School as well as HMA 1-8 to participate. Parents and friends regularly attend games at the HMA gym.

“;There is a good feeling between the high school kids and the elementary/intermediate kids,”; said sophomore Lady Knight Alana Muller.

The ILH experience started on Dec. 19 when the HMA Knights, the boys basketball varsity Division II team, played its first game knowing that the games really counted in a recognized league. The Knights' dream of competing against some of the top basketball teams in Hawaii had come true. The HMA Knights proved themselves on the court with a final record of 10 wins and 4 losses.

A victorious season, good sportsmanship, higher motivation, heightened school spirit — all have impacted the campus in a way few other activities can.

Thank you, ILH.