Coryn Iwamasa is roughly half the age of his counterparts, but his devotion to Waialua baseball is reaching fervor levels.
Iwamasa played for Leilehua just six years ago before matriculating to UH-Hilo. There, the staff included Garrett Yukumoto, Kallen Miyataki, former coaches at Leilehua and Waialua, respectively.
Iwamasa made his way back to Oahu and is now in his second year as Waialua’s head baseball coach.
“I’ve had great mentors,” Iwamasa said, including his high school coach, Lane Watanuki and current athletic director Nolan Tokuda. “The Waialua program and community deserve to get recognition. Waialua doesn’t get a lot of press and my goal, as well as my boss, (athletic director) Darnell Arceneaux, is to change the culture out here on the North Shore.”
The baseball Bulldogs have done that. Players like fireballing Erik Bell have been a presence at events like the Hawaii Sandlot Classic.
“Erik Bell is our bulldog on the bump and a true student of the game. He is another guy who leads by example. He has a 3.7 GPA and I know he will fit in just fine at Puget Sound.”
Waialua opens the season on Saturday against Radford. Game time is 2 p.m., but no spectators are allowed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Kamu Lorenzo, Sr., SS/RHP
Anthony Miyataki, Sr., OF/1B/LHP
Erik Bell, Sr., 1B/RHP (signee, University of Puget Sound)
Kanaloa Kapololu, Sr., IF/RHP (Hesston College, Kan.)
Gino Coyle, Jr., CF
“Anthony Miyataki is a four-year varsity player and is a member of the nationally recognized Waialua High School Robotics Program. He is also the student class president. He leads by example on and off the field and is the true definition of a student athlete,” Iwamasa said.
“Senior Kanaloa Kapololu brings energy and leads by example. He always has a positive mindset and is one of the friendliest guys you will ever meet. He also sports the highest GPA on our team with a 3.8. He’s committed to Hesston College on a baseball scholarship.
“Senior Kamu Lorenzo is a four-year varsity starter. He has good baseball savvy which is a rare find at the D-II level. He is our best overall athlete and will hit leadoff.”
The ’21 Bulldogs are a mix of veterans and youth.
“Despite our youth, we do have a very strong 2021 senior class. We have six seniors: Kamu Lorenzo, Anthony Miyataki, Erik Bell, Kanaloa Kapololu, Kade Dellatan and Sam Wirtz. I give the seniors a lot of credit. In the past two years, these guys have persevered through a lot. My staff and I are proud of each and every one of them and are doing everything we can to give them the best senior season possible,” Iwamasa said.
2020 was a heartbreaker for the program.
“The squad we had last year featured the most talented and seasoned baseball team Waialua has fielded in years. and to get shut down one game into the regular season was devastating for everyone involved. This year, we look a lot different. We have a much smaller and younger team than we did last year,” Iwamasa said.
Getting ready for ’21, which has regular-season play only, has been different.
“Finding scrimmages was hard since the ILH private schools were on a different schedule than OIA. We were fortunate to be able to set up scrimmages with Leilehua and Kapolei. This year for the regular season we will play everyone in OIA Division II once. No playoffs. Also for the first time in years, we are fortunate to have a TV game on May 1 against Kaimuki. The boys are excited and I’m glad our seniors will be able to have this opportunity,” Iwamasa said.
Weather and the cancellation of fall and winter sports had a big impact.
“When we were allowed to finally start conditioning, the heavy rain we had in late March hit the North Shore hard, causing some of our players to have to miss conditioning and practices because they had to help their family clean their houses due to the flooding. This held us back for a couple of days, but part of building our young men is having them understand that family always comes first and I’m proud of how the boys handled the situation,” Iwamasa said.
“Our biggest challenge returning to the field this season because of our youth and numbers is developing our underclassmen as quickly as possible. We usually use our winter JV season to really break down the fundamentals for the younger guys. This year, they didn’t have that opportunity. With half our team underclassmen, our success as a team this season relies a lot on their development,” he noted.