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.