High schools
get a boost
from HMSA

The state's largest medical insurer
says it will contribute $150,000
in the first year of the deal

With an emphasis on building the character of student-athletes of all schools in Hawaii, HMSA announced an unprecedented partnership yesterday with the Hawaii High School Athletic Association.


Kaimana Awards

The criteria for the Kaimana Awards team competition (trophy at right) is as follows:

Athletics (participation and league titles): 29.5 percent
Academics: 23.5 percent
Sportsmanship: 23.5 percent
Community service: 23.5 percent

For example, a team grade-point average of 3.0 or higher is worth 100 points. A coach's ejection is a 50-point penalty. Team standings will be posted periodically on the HMSA and HHSAA Web sites.

HMSA, the state's largest medical insurer, enters a three-year commitment that includes a $150,000 contribution for the first year. The Kaimana Awards and Scholarship Program is a multi-faceted boon for local high schools and leagues.

Schools, student-athletes and coaches will benefit most from the new program, a brainchild of HMSA's Michael Stollar. The plan, implemented by Bill Tobin of HMSA, was brought to fruition with help from each of the five leagues, as well as HHSAA executive board members.

HHSAA chief Keith Amemiya heard from HMSA three months ago, and in a short period of time, finalized what seems to be the perfect fit.

"This program has everything, the recognition, the scholarships," longtime Roosevelt athletic director Rodney Iwasaki said. "It's great for the kids who work hard, are dedicated and work in the community. And they'll recognize the golfers, cross country runners, cheerleaders, everybody."

Former UH Wahine basketball player and current Mid-Pacific assistant coach Da Houl was equally pleased.

"A lot of kids can't afford to go to college, so this really helps them," she said. "I think it's great of HMSA to help out the community. Who knows? Maybe in 20 years, these kids will be the ones giving back."

OIA executive director Dwight Toyama credited Tobin for executing the vision.

"This fits in nicely with our department's initiatives. It just fits perfect," he said. "Our administrators will be under the gun to stay on top of all the data."

Amemiya agreed.

"This is something we wanted to see happen for years, but we never had the wherewithal," he said.

Stollar put it succinctly following three months of intense labor.

"We're thrilled," he said. "It's a healthy baby."

Perhaps the most remarkable and immediate effect will be in the 21 individual scholarships HMSA will give out. Each is worth $2,000, with a focus on lesser-known sports.

The breakdown of student-athlete scholarships by league is: ILH and OIA, six each; BIIF, KIF and MIL, three apiece.

In the team honors, there will be no cash awards, but schools will receive trophies. The Sears Cup, which monitors athletic achievement by universities, served as a model for the Kaimana Awards. However, Stollar, Tobin and Amemiya wanted to go further, rewarding schools for community work, academic achievement, sportsmanship and athletics.

In addition, all sports are on an even playing field, meaning that success in a high-profile sport like football will not garner more points toward the Kaimana Awards than sports like cross country and bowling.

The school awards will be distributed according to league enrollments or divisions. In the Big Island Interscholastic Federation and Maui Interscholastic League, one award will be available to schools with more than 600 students, and another award will be earned by a school with fewer than 600 students.

The Oahu Interscholastic Association, the state's largest league, will have three awards split among East and West Red divisions, and the White, or Division II.

For coaches, HMSA's involvement is a blessing. Statewide, trainers and coaches have needed funding to help foster certification programs, including CPR training. HMSA will help underwrite the coaches' education segment of the Kaimana program.

Extra points: The HHSAA board will hold a special meeting this afternoon to discuss plans for state tournament expansion. All leagues are expected to reveal which schools have been assigned to Divisions I and II.

Last month, the board expanded the D-I state tourney to 12 entries from eight, and the D-II tourney to 12 from four.

Amemiya asked league chiefs to remind their ADs of the mandatory use of face masks for softball helmets. The rule is a national standard.

Hawaii High School Athletic Association

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