Pearl City wrestler Adam Greenleaf, who is hearing impaired, practiced some holds on teammate Kyle Snyder-Olivares. Greenleaf is 9-0 this season.

Grappling with gusto

Adam Greenleaf’s hearing isn’t perfect,
unlike his record on the mat

ADAM Greenleaf would do just about anything to help his Pearl City wrestling team. So the senior gained 18 pounds to rise one weight class. Better yet, he has gone 9-0 in league competition, helping Pearl City (10-0) take charge in the Oahu Interscholastic Association West Division.

Both perfect marks could have been in jeopardy had one obstacle not been removed.

The 17-year-old moved to Hawaii last year from Jacksonville, Fla., having enjoyed wrestling for five years. But there was just one problem when he arrived in the islands -- his sign language interpreter wasn't allowed to circle the mat.

Greenleaf is hearing impaired. In a sport that involves as much contact as wrestling, the ability for coaches to instruct athletes during a match is critical.

"Without being able to communicate with him, it's a big disadvantage," said Cedric Yogi, the Pearl City boys wrestling coach. "We're not able to tell him how much time is on the clock or if we see something that we want him to run."

During a match, two coaches are allowed to sit or stand in a corner of the wrestling mat and bark out instructions.

Before this season, if a hearing-impaired athlete needed an interpreter, the interpreter had to sit in a corner of the mat just as the coaches do, limiting the help he or she could provide. The Chargers encountered the same problem previously when another hearing-impaired wrestler couldn't communicate efficiently with coaches during matches.

To avoid the same circumstance this time around, Greenleaf's father wrote letters to league officials about the problem.

The issue reached the highest levels of Hawaii high school wrestling.

"We made it a goal to try and find a compromise that satisfied everyone. Sometimes we can get too caught up in bureaucracy and technical details," Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive director Keith Amemiya said. "But once the safety issues were addressed, everyone was happy.

"Wrestling is a difficult sport, so we admire him for overcoming his challenge. We want him to successfully compete in the sport he loves."

With that, Greenleaf was allowed to have one of Pearl City's three signers move around the mat with him.

"When the coach is behind me, I can't see him. But the interpreter can move around," Greenleaf explained. "They go around the mat and stay in the line of sight. It helps a lot."

Signing interpreter Tim Dryden, a Pearl City High employee, communicated with wrestler Adam Greenleaf yesterday during a practice session.

Kay Naquin, Vicky Watson and Tim Dryden each work with Greenleaf. Naquin, who has worked with the team for the past four years, said it is difficult to stay in Greenleaf's view. "It's very much a challenge, but it's a lot better than before," she said.

"When he's wrestling, every once in a while, it's hard for him to look up," Yogi said. "For example, if he's in the neutral position, and he takes his eyes off of his opponent for 1 second, that's giving his opponent an opportunity."

It was also hard enough for Greenleaf to adjust to life in a new place. Born in Iowa, Greenleaf's family packed and moved as other Marine Corps families do. For five years, he lived in California before moving to Jacksonville, where he spent the last 11 years. Last year, Greenleaf's father was relocated to Kaneohe Marine Corps Base. Even though his father has not been deployed, Greenleaf said he could be called up at any time.

When Greenleaf first joined the Charger squad, he shied away from his teammates.

"At first he had a little bit of trouble with the transition because they were moving around. Even his effort at practice, it was like he didn't want to be there," Yogi said. "But he's gotten comfortable with the kids, the coaches and everybody else now. He's transitioned really well now. He gets along with everybody."

Greenleaf communicates with his teammates via the written word on paper or through an interpreter.

"(My teammates) are awesome, funny, nice," Greenleaf said. "They treat me like a normal person."

Another big change for Greenleaf was his weight. In Florida, he wrestled in the 171-pound weight class. But in order to strengthen the team, Greenleaf put on more muscle to move up to 189.

"He relied a lot on his power moves," Yogi said. "Now, he has to use his speed a lot more."

Greenleaf's ability to adapt to a higher weight has helped the Chargers clinch the OIA West regular-season title. Greenleaf and Yogi are hoping the same kind of success can continue all the way into the state tournament in March.

"It's hard to tell (but) I think he has the potential to place in the states," Yogi said.

"Wrestling here is harder (than in Florida), I think. The wrestlers here are stronger," Greenleaf said.

"They want it more."

Athletes of the Week

Sean Fujii, Konawaena basketball: Scored 40 points, including 12 3-pointers, against Parker.

Tobi Kanehira, Aiea soccer: Scored on a 35-yard shot in the final seconds to beat Castle. She also assisted on Ambree Ako's goal in a win over Kailua to clinch a state tournament berth.

Honor roll
Kenneth Agdinoay, Maui: Scored 24 points at Hana.
Po'okela Ahmad, Kapolei: Scored 21 points against Leilehua.
Ikaika Hardie, Kamehameha: Scored 27 points against Punahou.
Kerstan Ho, Roosevelt: Blocked a shot and made a steal in the final minute to spark a win at Kahuku.
Keo Keola, Roosevelt: Scored 23 points against Moanalua, including the go-ahead basket with less than a minute left.
Kaimana Komine, AOP: Scored 21 points against Iolani II.
Justin Luavasa, Nanakuli: Scored 24 points, including the go-ahead free throws with 10 seconds left against Waipahu.
Stanley Malamala, Lahainaluna: Scored 29 points against Baldwin.
Jack Miller, St. Louis: Scored 24 points against Mid-Pacific.
La'akea Moikeha, Roosevelt: Scored 17 points, including the go-ahead layup, in a win at Kahuku.
Cody Nakamura, Baldwin: Scored 22 points against St. Anthony.
Vinny Nip, Iolani: Scored 22 points, including four treys, against University.
Jeremiah Ostrowski, Punahou: Scored 23 points against Maryknoll and 24 points against Kamehameha.
Kyle Pape, Iolani: Scored 22 points against Saint Louis.
Jordan Ranche, Word of Life: Scored 22 points against St. Louis II.
Mana Silva, Kamehameha-Hawaii: Scored 20 points against St. Joseph and 22 points against Laupahoehoe.
Ioane Spencer, Kealakehe: Scored 20 points against Konawaena and 30 points at Pahoa.
Va'afuti Tavana, Kauai: Scored 29 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against Waimea.
Wayne West, Moanalua: Scored 22 points, including four treys, against McKinley.
Aukai Wong, Hilo: Scored 28 points against Waiakea and 22 points against Keaau.

April Due, Kapolei: Had several saves in a 1-0 win over Kahuku, which had 13 shots on goal.

Tajia Acierto, Kapolei: Struck out nine in a shutout of Leilehua and went 3-for-4 with a double against Mililani.
Laua'e Emmsley-Chang, Kamehameha: Went 3-for-4 against Maryknoll.
Noe Esperas, Kamehameha: Pitched a shutout in a win over Maryknoll.
Kamaile Hughes, Kahuku: Went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs against Kaiser.
Kaliko Kepa, Kalaheo: Went 3-for-4 with two RBIs against McKinley.
Gisha Lightsy, Kahuku: Hit a home run and drove in two against Kaiser.
Kim Nagamine, Punahou: Went 3-for-3 against St. Francis.
Jasmine Nahipa'a, Kalaheo: Went 3-for-3 against McKinley.
Taralyn Odo, Iolani: Went 4-for-4 with two triples, a double and three RBIs against Mid-Pacific.
Adrienne Tanaka, Punahou: Went 3-for-4 with a double and RBI against St. Francis.
Pauline Taumalolo, Kaimuki: Hit a home run against Kailua.
Sarah Weisskopf, Punahou: Threw a shutout in a win over St. Francis.
Jasmine Yoro, Kapolei: Went 3-for-4 with a triple against Leilehua.

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