St. Francis softball request to go D-I denied twice

St. Francis' Kaitlyn Kalani celebrated after stealing a base against Punahou. The Saints are 4-3 in the ILH this season with one-run losses against both the Buffanblu and Mid-Pacific. Photo by Kat Wade/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Two St. Francis softball assistant coaches were denied twice in requests to the ILH, asking for permission for the team to move up to Division I for league and state competition.

The denials came from ILH executive director Blane Gaison to Saints athletic director Chad Konishi, according to the assistants — Ululani Reyes and Briana Tovio-Asato.

The latest denial came last week, about a day and a half after the assistants started a petition. The first denial came in mid-February.

Efforts to reach Gaison, ILH assistant executive director Georges Gilbert and Konishi for comment were unsuccessful as of Friday morning.

“We consulted people who we thought had decision-making power, but we were told that the move to Division I couldn’t be done because ‘it’s too late’ even though we asked (months ago),” Reyes wrote in an email to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

As of Thursday, the petition the assistants started had 839 signatures and 3,571 Facebook views of an accompanying video, according to Reyes.

The petition video can be seen here.

The petition is here.

In the video, there are statements from some of Hawaii’s top D-I softball coaches supporting St. Francis request to move up — Kapolei’s Keoke Behic, Mililani’s Rose Antonio, Kamehameha’s Leo Sing Chow, Campbell’s Michael Hermosura, Punahou’s Boy Eldredge, Leilehua’s Wendell Au and Maryknoll’s John Uekawa.

“We are extremely grateful to these coaches for endorsing our cause and are appreciative of their humility and display of good character,” Reyes wrote in her email to the Star-Advertiser. “Ultimately, we were hoping that the public’s support through the petition would set a precedent that may allow our girls the opportunity to achieve a Division I ILH championship title and/or Division I state championship title. We don’t know if the petition will pay off in a sense that the decision will go in our favor (because) our request has been officially denied twice. But, we think that trying so hard even when the odds are against us will teach our girls to be fighters in the game of softball and also in life.”

This is St. Francis’ final year in ILH softball because the school is closing at the end of this school year.

Hawaii leagues (ILH, OIA, KIF, MIL, BIIF) generally do not change a school’s classification in the middle of a season.

The Saints (4-3) are ranked No. 9 in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Top 10 of all Hawaii high school softball teams regardless of competitive level. They are the defending D-II state champions and they fell to No. 7 Punahou (a D-I school) 7-6 on Wednesday after taking a 6-0 lead. Two of three losses by the Saints are by one run.


  1. One for the gipper March 22, 2019 1:00 pm

    Anything to do with St Francis Blaine Gaison turned down started with football now softball he’s a sad case

  2. Just Saying March 22, 2019 1:07 pm

    How the heck do you petition the league to move up to D1 when your record is 4-3?

  3. ILH March 22, 2019 1:13 pm

    Maybe if it was asked at the conclusion of last season, when Division designation discussions occur, the outcome would have been different. Especially since the info from the petition suggested they were competitive with Div I schools last season and would be this season. Timing I guess.

    Now they can focus on winning the Div II state tournament and go out as repeat champs.

    What does that mean, ““We consulted people who we thought had decision-making power”??

  4. ILH March 22, 2019 1:14 pm

    Blaine’s to blame for what happened with Football?

    How so?

  5. Falcon Future March 22, 2019 2:26 pm

    The fact that Konishi has remained silent through all of this actually says a lot. I bet he didn’t do the proper paperwork to get St. Francis moved up when it should have been done last year. Don’t forget that Sacred Hearts is in ILH D1. There’s absolutely no way Sacred Hearts should get clearance ahead of St. Francis for softball, but it happened. Why? Because Sacred Hearts got their paperwork done and on time last year. St. Francis did not. End of story.

  6. BangkokJoe March 23, 2019 6:30 pm

    Gaison needs to issue a statement regarding this denial just to put all the “second guessing” aside.

  7. Wainakea March 25, 2019 4:19 am

    From how the school is closing down, no one should be surprised as to how the administration has handled matters. Financial struggles by building a gym, forfeiting a perfect season due to an ineligible player, issues with moving up to D-I…reminds me of the former coach at Michigan State “The kids are playing their tails off, and the adults are screwing it up”

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