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.