Kahuku girls don’t know where they’re staying

Nikki Dela Pena and Moanalua were lucky enough to find lodging on the Big Island. Bruce Asato/ Star-Advertiser
Nikki Dela Pena and Moanalua were lucky enough to find lodging on the Big Island. Bruce Asato/ Star-Advertiser

As of Tuesday at 9 p.m., the Kahuku girls soccer team did not know where it will be lodging for its trip to the early rounds of the state tournament at Konawaena High.

“We booked our trip for Hilo because that is where we were told the tournament would be,” Red Raiders coach Jay Hix said Tuesday night. “We found out on Sunday that the tournament is in Kona.”

Hix said the Red Raiders did not find hotels that have enough rooms available for their contingent of about 30 people, which includes 24 players.

“I have to put forms signed by parents on our AD’s desk in the morning (Wednesday) and it has to say on it where we are staying,” Hix said. “It’s like a field trip. It’s the same as if we were going to the Honolulu Zoo.”

So, Hix and his team face a dilemma. They’ve been offered lodging at the (nearby) Kealakehe High gym and band room, but haven’t accepted yet.

“We found one hotel that could fit 14 people and another that could fit 12,” he said. “But we don’t want to split the team.”

Other schools are facing burdens.

Moanalua coach Nikki Dela Pena said her team was invited to stay at a school gym.

“That would be a disservice to our girls,” she said. “Sleeping on a hard floor and not getting well-rested would not be a good thing. They are getting ready to play in such an important tournament.”

Luckily for the Moanalua girls, they’ll be staying at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.

But that fact is not so lucky for those who control Na Menehune finances.

“Because of such late notice, the actual cost is a lot more than the anticipated cost,” Dela Pena said. “We are paying four times more than we planned.”

Dela Pena and Hix both said this booking problem is keeping them away from what the real focus should be on — the actual game preparation for the tournament.

“This is a big sidetrack,” Dela Pena said.

Hix, who is trying to avoid being a travel agent (something he said he’s not very good at), said, “I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have my AD (Gillian Yamagata) and team moms working on this.”

Well, as mentioned earlier, as of Tuesday night, he still didn’t know where his team was staying.

“I have a friend who has a ranch, and one possibility is that we stay on his deck,” Hix said.

‘Iolani coach Kristin Masunaga said it was difficult for her team to find rooms. Parents and relatives of Raiders players who had booked rooms earlier gave them up so the team could be together. The relatives, however, will be staying farther away than they’d like, according to Masunaga.

According to several Oahu coaches, a last-minute switch of first-round matches from the Big Island to Oahu was discussed on Monday, but won’t be happening.

Many coaches are lamenting the fact that four Oahu teams (Moanalua vs. Kaiser, and Kahuku vs. ‘Iolani) are going to the Big Island to face another Oahu team.

Hawaii Prep athletic director Steve Perry does not have a stake in this girls state tournament, but he has been a caretaker of the Big Island’s interests when the Ads meet each year in June to make decisions.

Perry likes the fact that the tournament will be over two weekends (first round and quarterfinals this weekend and semifinals and final one weekend later).

Perry is also happy that the tournament final will be at the best facility — Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium, on Oahu.

And, Perry is a proponent of spreading the tournament out so that the teams in the final will not be playing for a third or fourth consecutive night.

Perry believes there will be some “tweaking” for next year when the ADs meet in June.

As for the travel problem, Perry does feel for the Oahu teams who didn’t know where they were going to be playing.

Perry also knows that, if, in the future, sites are predetermined (meaning no confusion between Hilo and Kona), then Oahu schools will be able to prepare in advance more easily.

“We’re used to it (traveling),” Perry said. “What we do is book a month in advance, even if it turns out that we don’t need to travel, in which case we can cancel the reservations.”

That type of plan did not help Kahuku, which booked for Hilo. And it did not help ‘Iolani, which was thinking it was going to Hilo until late in the process.

Which leads us to the nut of the problem: Predetermined sites would be a big benefit (and might cure all of the ills suffered already) if this regional type of format is going to be used by the HHSAA in the future.

Calls to the HHSAA and Kaiser (another team traveling to the Big Island this weekend) were not returned as of Tuesday night.


  1. Eselkay February 11, 2015 7:57 am

    What is the function of the HHSAA? I was under the impression that they coordinated the state tournaments for all of the high school sports in Hawaii. If that’s the case, they’ve been using the blueprints straight out of UH Athletics! UH had, among others, it’s “Wonder Blunder.” I guess the HHSAA’s version is the Chris “Chun-der Blunder.” Here’s my take on the “Chun-der Blunder”:
    1. No predetermined game site, only a predetermined island. Five out of six teams playing on Hawaii Island are travelling there. Not knowing whether it’s going to be in Hilo or Kona until less than a week before the games causes serious hardships for teams and their families wanting to watch them play. Cost of flights and hotels increase, while its availability decreases. Word on the street is, most of the hotels in Kona are booked leaving teams scrambling to find housing, with some possibly having to sleep in the school gyms. Had this been a preseason tournament, gym sleepovers would be great for team bonding, but for the state tournament, not so much. Also, in case you’ve been living under the rock and not on it, Hawaii Island has 2 airports on opposite sides of an island so big, all of the other islands could fit on it without overlapping. It would’ve been nice to know which one to fly in to.
    2. Regionals on different islands, in theory, is a novel idea. Having other islands host, besides Oahu, is a good thing. I understand this is only its second year of existence, and the kinks are, again in theory, being worked out. However, it seems like when one kink is smoothed out, three more pop up. Why not have it on a rotating schedule with each league hosting (ie: MIL 2016, ILH 2017, BIIF 2018, OIA 2019, etc.) With the current format, having a bye as the top seed means nothing when its played over the course of two weeks. Also, in my time coaching and playing, I haven’t encountered any more or less injuries during a four-day tournament format. In addition, the brackets aren’t being played at the same site so coaches can’t watch the teams that they may be playing next. #1 Punahou and #2 Campbell are not in the same bracket, but their first round games are being played in Oahu. Same goes for #3 Baldwin and #4 Konawaena, they are in different brackets playing in Kona.
    3. I’m not a fan of consolation games. In my experience, once a team loses, they sort of check out mentally. But if you must have them, the four-day format is the better option.
    Possible solutions: a) keep the four-day tournament format combined with a rotating schedule; b) have the schools that are not travelling help to subsidize travel cost (or have teams stay in gyms); c) not that the state needs more Boards and Commissions, but the HHSAA needs help – the AD’s and Principals seem to be running the show. Chun, as the Executive Director, needs to make firm decisions. He may not always be liked for it, but at least he will be respected for it. The “Chun-der Blunder” is not all his fault, many AD’s and Principals probably had more to do with this than he did. However, someone needs to be the Apple or the Jay of Hawaii High School Athletics.

  2. Paper Crane February 12, 2015 2:27 am

    This is just unsafe and unhealthy and it’s not free too and any other way to provide/seek lodging is only uncomfortable/unrest all around especially for the players.

  3. Robert February 12, 2015 9:08 am

    Up next is High School Boys soccee playoffs in Maui,
    I’m sure the boys are gonna face the similar situation, even with lessons learned from the girls…
    I think it’s more of a headache to schedule playoffs off island, but that’s my 2cents.
    Problem is they only knew Sunday that yes! Ranked 2, 4, 6 travels… so everyone waiting for confirmation, only to book 4 days b4 the tournament? On a busy weekend?
    of course hotels going be booked…duh!
    So now the boys are guessing, are they gonna keep it the same? Or do we book thinking it might change? Parents what to make sure their child is safe, with basic essentials, of course they going speak up….. this is just plain crazy! ….

  4. exasperated February 12, 2015 5:05 pm

    Agree with everyone above. Plus this problem: the soccer season for boys, anyway, is two weeks longer than its ever been making it almost impossible for kids who play soccer to really get a full, fair tryout for baseball. Swimmers, basketballers and wrestlers have a hard time with the overlap, too. All because Football dominates the fall schedule. SO many byes and countless playoff games, no other sport can really start until after Thanksgiving. Given that, why create a tournament system that’s makes things even longer?

  5. Paul Honda February 12, 2015 5:08 pm

    Actually, the football used to run into December. Administrators worked on moving the season up and shortening it the past few years.

  6. Sonofgun February 13, 2015 8:48 am

    i think the other issue is why not have the outter island team travel every year.

    1. At least they have a better chance of finding lodging.
    2. Most of the team slots in states are for Oahu teams anyway, there is less teams to travel.

    Also, I am not suggesting the outter island team eat all the costs. Try to spread a cost to each school to help offset for those who travel to Oahu. Now, there could be a question of home court advantage but Oahu is just better prepared to handle the groups. This isn’t rocket science.

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