(Here is more about Kamalanimaile Manner, the first-year varsity bowler from Hanalani who won the Interscholastic League of Honolulu championship last week as a sophomore. The feature story was published in Tuesday’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser.)
It’s not often that a first-year high school bowler wins the ILH title, especially after not qualifying for states all season.
Kamalanimaile Manner rolled 189-189-202 for a 580 total last week, easily besting competition among the girls and boys. The most unusual thing is this: she rates bowling behind six other sports and activities she likes to do. She just happens to be a queenpin who will be one of the contenders at the HHSAA State Championships on Thursday at Leeward Bowl.
How novel is this: she treats her favorite activities, including bowling, as something fun to do. Her early start and her skill level are huge factors. Could she be better if she applied her studious nature to bowling? She likes chemistry and biology.
“Yeah, it’s complicated, but I got around to it. I understand it,” she said.
When her biology class has an animal dissection, Manner digs in, full bore. Somewhere between biology class and years of watching Grey’s Anatomy, a once-promising TV program that tumbled into the world of hyper-romantic drama and somehow managed to last 13 seasons, Manner decided she’d like to become a heart surgeon.
Underneath the variety of activities, and maybe spurred by the support of her mom, the one common thread is that Manner loves to compete. She might shun some of the nuances of her activities for sheer fun, but it’s not exactly a casual thing.
“My dad would take me bowling and he would get good scores, so it got competitive,” she said. “I hate losing. I was maybe 10 and scored around 140-ish when I beat him. He was, ‘Oh, finally you beat me.’
There are college bowling scholarships out there, rewards for kids who spend most of their free time at the alley. On a free Sunday, Manner would rather be in the water surfing. One dream is to travel to Tahiti and ride their version of Banzai Pipeline, Teahupo‘o. Manner’s mother worries, of course. Any chance to take a break from the water during this time of year is a good one. It is the time when sharks are in mating season, her mom says.
“There is an old saying, ‘Pua ka wiliwili nanahu ka mano.’ When the wiliwili tree blooms, the shark bites. October and November is wiliwili season,” said Makua Leilani, who is a Hawaiian Studies teacher at Palisades Elementary School.
Bowling? Just a wee bit safer. Mom can’t help worrying. Kamalani suffered a concussion on Aug. 22, the same day she competed in the Duke Kahanamoku surf contest in Waikiki. It was after the contest, surfing on her own, when a tourist’s board struck her.
“Kekoa (her brother) said, ‘Mom, she’s walking crooked and talking bubbles,” Makua Leilani said.
Manner couldn’t walk in a straight line, let alone bowl. Headaches, sensitivity to light, all the symptoms got worse and she went to the doctor a week later. Therapy got her balance back in line.
“If I hadn’t done therapy, there’s no way I could’ve bowled,” she said. “I had to follow (the therapist’s) finger, run and walk while looking straight.”
Then came the fractured pinky finger on her bowling hand. It happened while she was playing football at the park during school. That was another setback, and she never really showed what she could do on the bowling lanes until her grip was strong again — at the ILH championships.
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Bowling, basketball, volleyball
Athlete: John John Florence. “Everything he does is amazing.”
Food (at home): “I eat everything. I like my grandma’s spaghetti. (Grandma is Juanita Tumacder.) I can make spaghetti, pancakes, French toast, bacon omelette. I can microwave saimin.”
Food (eating out): I like sushi and Hawaiian food. Genki Sushi and Highway Inn.
Hobbies/activities: 1. Longboard surfing, 2. Basketball, 3. Volleyball, 4. Free diving, 5. Skateboarding, 6. Dancing.
> Surfing: “I have five surfboards, short to long.”
> Free diving: “I usually dive for sand to see how deep I can go. Shark’s Cove. I would love to use a spear gun.”
> Skateboarding: “I have long boards and short.”
> Dancing: “I do hula and Tahitian. It used to be weekly since I was 3. I was in Mix Pac (hip hop).”
Movie: Endless Summer. “I don’t know their names. I skip to the parts where they surf.”
TV show: Grey’s Anatomy. “It’s just funny and relatable. And I want to become a surgeon. At the time I first started watching this show, I was dissecting animals. Pig, squid, shark. Some people went outside (the classroom). Babies. Cardio surgery, the heart, that’s what I want to see.”
Music artist: Kolohe Kai. “I enjoy island music.”
Teacher: Jesus. “I have a lot of favorites, so I’ll pick Jesus.”
Class: Chemistry. “Yeah, it is complicated, but I got around to it. I understand it.”
Place to relax: Beach.
Motto/scripture: “If you don’t do it now, you’re going to regret it.”
What is the history of your name: “My mom was listening to the song, ‘Kamalani’, by Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole.”
> Mom: “I was sitting in my classroom during lunch (at Pearl City Highlands Elementary School) having lunch break, listening to music and that song, ‘Kamalani came on. And she kicked me. I was six months (pregnant). When the kids came in, I was playing ukulele and asked them if they knew the song. They sang along and she was kicking the ukulele.”
Earliest memory of bowling: “Started in third grade. I got the hang of it.”
> Mom: “She joined (junior league). My co-worker’s kids bowled in the league. It runs in the family. (Brother) Kekoa bowled for Hanalani. My uncle bowled. Once in awhile we bowl as a family.”
Gear: Freakin’ Frantic, purple and green, 12 or 13 pounds. “We got it from a Pro-Am package deal at Hickam.”
What are you good at that would surprise people: “I can surf and I have a good memory for faces.”
Ultimate dream: “Still searching.”