Kalani Simpson Sidelines

Kalani Simpson

Prep tour results
in a busy day

YESTERDAY was one of the busiest (and biggest) days of the year on the Hawaii high school sports calendar. Championships everywhere, and all at once. Crazy. There was no way to take them all in.

Or was there ...

Boys and girls state tennis tournament, Central Oahu Regional Park: Eight-thirty a.m. Yes, you read it right -- 8:30. Your high school sports Saturday has already begun. Cameras, coolers, candy leis. The tennis folks are out, enveloped by a gentle morning mist. It's just getting started -- warmups, umbrellas and cold Zip-Pacs.

A man on a cell phone is explaining tennis etiquette:

"Just like golf, ah," he's telling the caller with a smile. "You starting on the tee and your phone go off, and you get a couple slaps."

But no need to worry. Tennis is a genteel sport -- call your own fouls, the honor system. "Was that out?" one girl inquires. "Was that out?" her opponent answers, incredulous the question was even asked. "YES."

What a beautiful facility. What a great tournament. A wonderful atmosphere. In fact, everything would have been perfect, except that while staring at the official bracket, I realized I was standing in gum.

And as I squished away I noticed two boys in the parking lot using a magnifying glass to set things on fire. But there was no time to investigate, as it was time to be off to ...

The OIA baseball playoffs, Mililani: Baseball. Beautiful. Nothing like hanging out behind the outfield fence, taking a laid-back view of the action in front of you. Chatter. The THOOMP! of a pitched ball hitting a catcher's mitt. It's Pearl City against Kalaheo and the announcer lets slip some happy laughter into the PA.

The Waianae team bus pulls up and the boys shuffle off, slippers over stirrups and socks.

A bloop double, the right fielder dives for the ball, the hitter dives into second base.

Finally, the Mustangs get the game-winner on a brilliant line drive, and then hold on with defense in the bottom of the seventh. They sprint together, jumping and hugging, stragglers from the outfield leaping onto the pile like they're going to the World Series. Well, it did earn them a spot in states.

Fifth place felt that good, yesterday.

But time to go. I turn back to the car, to brave the to-Town traffic jam (I think I did some permanent damage to my clutch foot) for ...

The OIA girls water polo championships, the Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Center at UH: A revelation: This may be the coolest sport I've ever seen. It doesn't stop. Sure, anyone who's ever brought a ball to the beach has played some version of this, but here it doesn't stop. Just more movement and more swimming and another time to turn and sprint-swim back down to the other end of the pool. The treading water never stops. I burned 1,000 calories just watching.

That's it. I'm hooked now.

Constant action, a ball in the air. Lots of splashing. And there's nothing like the blue of a pool on a sunny day.

Besides, I love any sport where the coaches wear slippers.

But too soon, the game is pau and there isn't another one for quite a while, so it's a perfect opportunity to brave more traffic and get a head start toward ...

The state track meet, up the hill, Kamehameha Schools: An incredible view. An amazing view. Oh, and scene you see looking down the mountain isn't bad, either.

This new Kunuiakea stadium complex is amazing. Brand new and state-of-the-art.

A kid in the pole-vault field has an old "FASI" shaka shirt. One of the team tents features a giant, inflatable alligator.

All around, a rainbow of warmup suits circles the track. The sun pounds down.

It might be time to settle in for a while.

It's been quite a day.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at


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