Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, April 26, 2001


LeMahieu hears
plans to save
state tourneys

The superintendent considers
options that would work
around class schedules

By Jason Kaneshiro

State Superintendent of Education Paul LeMahieu met with the heads of high school sports leagues and legislators today to consider alternatives to canceling six state tournaments.

LeMahieu met with Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive director Keith Amemiya, Oahu Interscholastic Association executive secretary Dwight Toyama, State Sen. Bob Hogue (R-Kaneohe-Maunawili-Enchanted Lake) and Board of Education member Winston Sakurai in his office at 12:30 this afternoon to decide the fate of the state tournaments.

"(LeMahieu) did ask me to bring a plan," Amemiya said. "A planned state tournament schedule which does not involve missed class time by public school students."

Hogue said the group will consider three proposals. The OIA proposal calls for eight-team baseball and girls' basketball tournaments to be held on a Friday and Saturday and one-day competitions for golf, tennis and track and field. A similar plan from the HHSAA allows for play on Sundays.

Hogue said he will also propose keeping the baseball and basketball tournaments at 12 teams.

"We at least need to discuss that within the other parameters of no missed class time," said Hogue, who is also asking religious groups for their opinions on playing games on Sundays.

Under the OIA and HHSAA proposals, the girls' basketball tournament would include three OIA teams, two Interscholastic League of Honolulu teams and one each from the Big Island Interscholastic Federation, the Kauai Interscholastic Federation and the Maui Interscholastic League. The BIIF would get two teams for the baseball tournament, while the ILH would get one. Representation for the other championships has yet to be determined.

LeMahieu announced Tuesday that the state's public schools would not participate in the spring state tournaments due to the amount of class time the student-athletes would miss for travel and competition. The lack of public school participation would effectively cancel the six tournaments scheduled for mid- to late-May.

The Hawaii State Teachers' Association strike, which was settled Tuesday morning, claimed 14 school days, and LeMahieu's directive was aimed at maximizing instructional time for students.

But LeMahieu softened his stance Tuesday night, and a memo released by the Department of Education said alternative plans that "minimize the loss of instructional time" would be considered.

As teams returned to practice yesterday, Amemiya and his colleagues scrambled to come up with viable options that would save the boys' and girls' golf, tennis, track and field, baseball and girls' basketball tournaments.

"I have to coordinate this with all five leagues and the sites and make sure airline schedules can accommodate everybody getting back before the end of the weekend." Amemiya said.

High school golfers got a dose of good news yesterday when Marty Keiter, the director of golf at Kapalua Resorts, announced the Kapalua Village Golf Course would be available for the boys' state tournament May 12-13. Amemiya said the HHSAA is awaiting word from the Dunes at Maui Lani Golf Course on whether the course could host the girls' tournament on the same dates.

"We were thinking it would be nearly impossible to get a golf course on a weekend," Amemiya said. "Our high school golfers owe a huge debt of gratitude to Kapalua and Marty Keiter."

However, the logistics of holding state tournaments without taking students out of classes remain daunting. For example, the state tennis tournament, originally scheduled as a three-day event in Poipu, Kauai, would have to be condensed into two days and conclude by Sunday afternoon due to the limited number of flights from Kauai to Maui and the Big Island.

Also, the leagues have said they would not schedule events Memorial Day weekend due to graduation ceremonies at six schools around the state. Aiea, whose baseball and girls' basketball teams were undefeated before the strike, will hold graduation May 26.

"I think everybody agrees we can't make them choose between walking (in the ceremony) and playing in a state tournament," Toyama said.

Athletic directors from the individual leagues met yesterday to come up with schedules to complete the spring seasons, but they cannot finalize the make-up dates until the state tournament situation is resolved. Mel Imai, the OIA girls' basketball coordinator, said the league formulated a plan based on the assumption the state tournaments would be held. Toyama said he hopes the OIA, the state's largest league with 24 schools, will resume play May 1.

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