Kealakehe basketball team
rides a wave of grief

Players will honor a senior swimmer
who died in a car accident this week

Normally, nothing gets the talented, sometimes goofy Kealakehe Waveriders down.

But even Brian Boshard, a minister by day and basketball coach by night, can't talk about Sarah Rosenberg without feeling the pain.

Rosenberg, a senior at Kealakehe, died in an auto accident Tuesday while in Waikoloa.

The news spread quickly to Honolulu, where the Waverider basketball team was about to tip off against Damien in the Punahou Holiday Classic. She was known in sporting circles as a state-championship-caliber swimmer, but her effect on people went beyond athletics.

"We'll honor her throughout the season," Boshard said Wednesday afternoon.

For several players, the news hit hard. Rosenberg was more than a classmate.

"She always used to make me laugh," said forward Eddie Lee, who had known Rosenberg since sixth grade. "When I found out they pulled the (respirator) plug, I was furious. I still had hope."

Loa Patao, Kealakehe's standout guard, can barely grasp the fact that Rosenberg is gone now.

"You could talk to her about anything. She's all smiles, like she never had a gloomy day in her life," he said.

Forward Malkum Cahero-Wimbish saw something special in Rosenberg.

"She was the one to always help people. When we had new teachers, she grabbed Eddie and me to do skits for them and help them understand pidgin," he said of Rosenberg, who served in student government through middle and high school. She was the class president this year.

"Even if she didn't know you, she would say 'hi.' I know because I've seen her do it," Cahero-Wimbish said.

Center Ioane Spencer was honest.

"To find a silver lining in this is hard. Being over here, we didn't have a chance to see her. All we have now are memories and pictures," he said. "Our coaches always say there's more to life than basketball. She was one of the most humble athletes I know."

Boshard and his team were as upbeat as possible, finishing out the last two games of the tourney. Their hearts, though, were somewhere else.

"We would've got out of here today, if we could have," he said. "Our thoughts are back there."

Boshard coached Rosenberg on a youth basketball team a few years ago. "We wanted the guys to focus and keep fighting, but we know we're just playing a game. When you grieve, you grieve in waves. All we can do is pray for mercy and grace."

The Waveriders donned headbands for their last tournament game against Baldwin. The headbands are embroidered with Rosenberg's initials.

"When Coach Pat (Primacio) gave us the headbands in the locker room, that's when it hit me," Patao said.

"She wouldn't want us to cry," Lee said. Isolated in a lockerroom, the team cried anyway, moments before taking the court.

"We'll wear the headbands for the rest of the season," Spencer said. "We want to live through her. She's still here. We just can't see her."

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