Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, April 4, 2001


Strike would be
bad news for preps

High school athletes don't want
their hard work to be
for nothing

By Jason Kaneshiro

A week before the first pitches of the high school baseball season popped into catcher's mitts around the state, Roosevelt coach Kerry Higa could already see the effects of a possible teachers' strike in the faces of his players.

"The kids are taking it kind of hard," Higa said. "They know how hard they worked in the offseason, and for this to happen, you can tell they feel it."

A walkout by members of the Hawaii State Teachers' Association is set to begin tomorrow, leaving public high school athletes around the state to hope their hours of practice and training have not been in vain.

A strike would result in the shutdown of four of the state's five high school leagues, and its overall impact on the high school sports calendar will depend on its length.

"We're going to wait and see what happens," said Kailua athletic director Mel Imai.

The strike would affect the Oahu Interscholastic Association, Big Island Interscholastic Federation, Maui Interscholastic League and Kauai Interscholastic Federation, halting their baseball, girls basketball, golf, tennis, track and field and judo seasons. The Interscholastic League of Honolulu, which comprises Oahu's private schools, will continue its seasons without disruption.

Private schools on the neighbor islands have agreed to abide by the terms of the shutdown. The neighbor islands don't have separate leagues for public and private schools

Once a walkout goes into effect, all public school facilities will be closed to coaches and athletes. Players may organize their own workouts, but they will have to use their own equipment and coaches cannot be present due to liability concerns.

"It's just a matter of hoping the kids will go out on their own to stay in shape," said Waipahu athletic director Keith Morioka, who also oversees the OIA's baseball operation.

While administrators hope for a quick resolution to the strike, sports coordinators are scrambling to formulate contingency plans in the event games must be canceled or postponed. But they admit the uncertainty surrounding the length of the strike makes their planning little more than guesswork.

Imai, the OIA's girls basketball coordinator, said the league's basketball committee will decide how best to finish the season once they get an idea of how long a strike may last.

"We're going to do what we can to salvage the season," Imai said. "If it means having a tournament to determine a champion we'll do that. We're going to do what we can to have a representative in the state tournament."

Morioka is looking at several ways to complete the baseball season in the event of a prolonged shutdown, including scheduling up to four games a week or holding a double- or single-elimination tournament to determine state tournament qualifiers.

While a short strike may result in games being rescheduled, a work stoppage of a few weeks could jeopardize entire seasons. A two-week strike may result in a three- or four-week delay in competition as the athletes will be given time to get back into game shape prior to the resumption of games.

"If it goes more than three weeks we have to look at canceling the season because the safety of the athletes becomes an issue," Morioka said. He cited the example of pitchers hurting their arms by throwing at game speeds after a significant lay-off.

Keith Amemiya, executive secretary of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, said he is monitoring the situation and is exploring a number of options, including shifting the dates of the state tournaments currently scheduled for May.

"If a strike goes long enough, of course there's the possibility some or all of the state tournaments may be canceled," Amemiya said. "The reason we're keeping our options open is because every sport is different."

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