‘Board meetings’ a way of life as Kamehameha Coach Chris Blake awaits ILH update

Longtime Kamehameha girls volleyball coach Chris Blake gets in the water as often as possible with family. Riding waves is one of their hobbies, particularly during the pandemic. Photo courtesy of Jacob Vandervelde.

There are board meetings and there are board meetings.

When the heads of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu conclude their meeting today (Friday), there may be relief for traditional volleyball practitioners. That would include 10-time state championship coach Chris Blake of Kamehameha.

While the top officials of the private-school league discuss matters concerning prep sports and safety, Blake has kept his program alert and active while abiding by all COVID-19 protocols. The Warriors run on the track. Tradition. They do their drills. Tradition. When there’s free time, Blake and his sons enjoy their board meetings in glassy conditions.

The ocean can be the ultimate pandemic therapy.

“The time in the water was a direct result of COVID as it was a way for us to fill in the time we have with the postponement of all sports activities,” Blake said. “It allowed our ‘ohana to stay together and in shape. Now we are at the beach regularly for our ‘board meetings.’ “

So much so, that he often posts photos taken by family and friends that are in wow territory. Nothing massive in wave size. Just something clean and ethereal. Meanwhile, conditions on land continue to bring hope to volleyball school teams.

The improving numbers on a day-by-day basis in the COVID-19 pandemic — downtrending and within Tier 4 levels in recent days — mean that indoor sports like girls and boys volleyball are gaining ground. Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi sought and got the approval of Gov. David Ige to move the city and county from Tier 2 to Tier 3, which officially went into effect on Thursday.

Kamehameha coach Chris Blake congratulated his team during a timeout in a five-set win over ‘Iolani to win a third straight ILH championship in 2019. Photo by Andrew Lee/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Tier 4 is possible as early as Mar. 25. The ILH is the only league that kept girls volleyball afloat by postponing it to “Season 2”. Coach Blake notes that their season is scheduled to begin on Monday, the same day that ILH athletic directors meet.

“I am not sure exactly how (Tier 3) would affect what the plans are as it is being handled by the league office and league athletic director level. However, I believe that this should guide how the league proceeds with the Season 2 sports scheduled to start on Mar. 1,” he said. “We have been in preparation for the potential of team tryouts for our Kamehameha-Kapalama program. I believe that the athletics directors are working on competition schedules for all scheduled sports and then will asses their next steps in their scheduled meetings. For volleyball, I think that there may be league play for the varsity, junior varsity and intermediate levels.”

That would be major news for perennial powerhouse programs like ‘Iolani, Punahou and Kamehameha, and Division II title contenders Hawaii Baptist, Hanalani and more. Until there is anything official, it is as much optimism as it is reality.

“Our athletic department made a decision earlier this year that we would not have intermediate teams at all sports for this school year, so we are planning for our varsity and junior varsity levels,” Blake said. “We are hopeful that we will be starting on Monday.”

The last time girls volleyball had a match was the fall of 2019. Defending champion Kamehameha has won four of the last six state titles.

“We are excited for the opportunity to start the process to return to the extra- and co-curricular activities for the human in our learning institutions. They are essential in the growth and development, including their health and well being,” Blake added. “We are especially happy for the class of 2021 as they have had a very challenging school year and that these scholar-athletes may have an opportunity to compete.”

Coach Chris Blake enjoys a challenge now and then. Photo courtesy of Jamie Blake.


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