Coaches react to OIA/DOE’s decision to postpone fall sports

Photo by Jamm Aquino.

Some coaches are understanding, but others are doubtful that the right decisions are being made at the best time.

Coaches around the state reacted to the DOE and Oahu Interscholastic Association’s decision to postpone fall sports until Sept. 24. The league and DOE are requiring vaccination of all student-athletes in fall sports, which led one unnamed coach to question the level of fairness.

“My thing is, OK, why are they making the athletes vaccinate? What about the students in the school? It doesn’t make any sense. We’re closer to the students in the classroom than we are on the court or field. They say there’s social distancing in the classroom, but there’s not,” the coach said.


Longtime Kaimuki football coach David Tautofi has been frustrated by the lack of declaration from the top through the past several months. He doesn’t agree with the mandate that only student-athletes are required to be vaccinated by Sept. 24.

“I don’t disagree with the decision (to postpone), but I understand it. If it’s as deadly as they say it is, they’re playing a dangerous game. We’re just as susceptible to carrying it and spreading it if we’re vaccinated. My issue is, if it were me I would let it be a personal decision, but if they do this, they need to go all in with the full DOE, all staff and students,” he said. “They’re playing a deadly game. Those teachers and students are now at risk.”

Tautofi doesn’t expect a good outcome out of the segregation of student-athletes from the student body in terms of this policy.

“The biggest issue is the divisiveness this will cause when you’re isolating athletics from everything else,” he said. “It was easy for them to pull it off because coaches have no weight in the DOE. They have no representation. There’s no union to represent the coaches. I always try to think positive and give the benefit of the doubt. (Administrators) get paid big bucks to make impactful decisions for the kids. Going with how decisions have been made during the pandemic, it’s highly doubtful we will have a full season.”

By the DOE’s timeline, a Sept. 24 deadline for student-athlete vaccinations would keep teams and athletes away from practices and competition until Tuesday, Oct. 5 — two weeks after the inoculation deadline, the amount of time needed for the vaccine to kick in. That also means that a full season of nine regular-season OIA games, including playoffs, would extend the season into January. That would be new territory.

Reaction by parents to restrictions and cancellations in other states like California has been forceful. That has not been the case in Hawaii.

“I just want to spark people to stand up and raise their voices,” Tautofi said. “For some reason, as a society, we don’t. I want our families to understand what’s going on. Fight for your kids’ education.”

Sterling Carvalho coached the Rebel Squad Pylon team to a title at a national tournament during the summer. Now he’s concerned that a second tackle football season at Kahuku will be steamrolled.

“It is frustrating that our players and parents have committed and sacrificed so much, practicing and training, just to have our season postponed,” Carvalho said. “We do not want a repeat of last year. I feel for those parents and players who are having their agency tested to be vaccinated or not. Prayers going out to everyone that whatever decision is being made, that it will be the best for family and each individual.”

Carvalho, like other coaches, is anticipating a major exodus of student-athletes to states that are playing football.

“Players got burnt once, and many families don’t want it to happen again. I know, as we speak, many schools are calling our players and parents. I just feel for these student-athletes. They just want to play,” he said.

The timing could have been better, Moanalua football coach Vince Nihipali noted.

“I was a bit surprised over the length of time of the pause. It’s a couple weeks longer than I expected, but at least there is a start date moving forward,” he said. “I am bummed out that we won’t be able to go this week already, but that doesn’t stop the preparation for when we do start up again. More film and prep time for coaches, and some needed time for kids that are injured and would miss some time in the beginning of the season, also.”

The Red Raiders coach is still holding on to hope. His message to Kahuku players is about resilience.

“Stay positive. At least now we have an answer and direction in which we are going. It may not be what some players and parents want to hear, but at lest we can have a full season with no cancellations if we adhere to these new mandates,” Carvalho said.


Meanwhile, the Interscholastic League of Honolulu has not made an official announcement. Two football coaches said they plan to continue team practices. They also noted that there could be a backup plan installed to have an ILH-only schedule until the OIA revs back up.

There is no word yet on the status for mainland trips. Mililani is slated to play national powerhouse Mater Dei, while Saint Louis is scheduled to play at Bishop Gorman (Aug. 20).

First-year Waialua football head coach Gary Wirtz is encouraging his players to keep training.

“Just hang in there. We will be back. Keep your eye on the prize and get in any workouts that you can on your own. The more you work on your own the better we’ll be when we get back,” he said.

The reality of another delay is a gut punch for dedicated athletes and coaches.

“It kind of feels like Hawaii doesn’t want our student-athletes to return. It’s already hard enough for them to get exposure to the (colleges) on the mainland, and now we are pushing things back. It’s tough. The rest of the mainland is playing like there is nothing going on,” Wirtz said. “Honestly, it is what it is. Nothing we can do about it but protect ourselves and our families. Get vaccinated if you’re not.”

Kapaa football coach Mike Tresler is asking his players and parents to stay the course, too.

“On the bright side, it’s a postponement and not a cancellation. I heard the rumblings about vaccinations, but the postponement is a complete surprise. We will keep student-athletes engaged and, hopefully, they can somehow maintain some of their physical conditioning. To start over again (in September or October) is tragic and very frustrating. There has to be a better way to transition. We live in unprecedented times. All we can do is remain positive and do our best to deal with the mandates.”

Meanwhile, Konawaena football coach Brad Uemoto has already seen five of his Wildcats depart.

“I can’t say I’m surprised. I feel that something different had to happen and, unfortunately, we’ve gotten to that point. Our five players who transferred account for nine starting positions. At a school like Konawaena, it is detrimental to our program to lose that much. We instantly go from contending to surviving,” Uemoto said. “I feel bad for the student-athletes because they were so excited to get football back. It was a dangling carrot and, for the interim, it got taken away again. The uncertainty kills them and it’s just unfortunate.”

Uemoto isn’t giving up on the season.

“I’m optimistic about everything in life. I still believe our season will happen successfully,” he said. “It’s just hard for these young players to have to go through this all over again.”


COMMENTS

  1. ILoveHawaii August 4, 2021 12:54 pm

    AGENCY…………….Really?
    HuInDaHeo says AGENCY.
    Dis, white pants guy does.
    He is TEN much.


  2. Opinion August 4, 2021 1:41 pm

    Meanwhile 4 mainland high schools are gonna be here playing volleyball next week while OIA athletes won’t be able to participate. Par for the course. We’re requiring athletes to be vaccinated while 35k tourists a day come to our state and are not required to be vaccinated. Diamond head trail averages 400 people on the trail at the same time. Sea life park dolphin stadium is filled to capacity daily. Hilton has a luau nightly with over 150 guests a night. All events maskless. But our kids can’t play for the second fall season in a row. What’s gonna be interesting is when parents against vaccinating their kids do it in order for their kids to play and the DOE ends up canceling fall sports. Gonna be interesting to see what happens to these individuals.


  3. ILoveHawaii August 4, 2021 2:59 pm

    Unsure, but are all visitors required to have taken the vaccine?


  4. rrforlfiebaby August 4, 2021 2:59 pm

    DOE & OIA part of a bureaucratic system that is run by people with no balls or common sense.


  5. Good Story August 4, 2021 3:02 pm

    @ ILoveHawaii
    What?? You speech police??
    Who says 10 much??? We do. Das how we talk. Stop being one hater. You fwam. Yes, We say dat too.


  6. Opinion August 4, 2021 3:24 pm

    ILoveHawaii
    Tourists are not required to be vaccinated prior to coming to Hawai’i. Only requirement is a negative Covid. Test 72 hours prior to travel from an approved safe partner. In fact if they say they’re gonna quarantine inside their hotel room for 10 days, they aren’t even required to take a Covid test.


  7. ILoveHawaii August 4, 2021 3:45 pm

    Yay! Good Story is in da Fale.
    Da Fwam Police.

    Wait, are you saying…….??
    You guys fully embrace White Pants as an OG?
    Right on for you OG’s. You guys have come such a long way.

    Kidding aside.
    How’s it look bro?
    Saw some highlights from the Aiea scrimmage, running game looks strong and the receivers are actually running routes instead of just blocking.

    And, you guys dont say AGENCY. Stop It.


  8. rhfbch August 4, 2021 4:54 pm

    BEING A HEAD FOOTBALL COACH IN THE STATE OF WASHINGTON, WE MADE IT HAPPEN THIS PAST SPRING PLAYING GAMES BY DOING THE FOLLOWING:
    OUR SCHOOL DISTRICT BOUGHT MASKS TO ATTACH TO THE FACEMASKS ON THE HELMETS.
    THEY ARE FASTENED BY VELCRO.
    THESE WERE AWESOME AS THE PLAYERS COULD STILL BREATHE COMFORTABLY.
    THE OTHER SPORTS REQUIRED ATHLETES TO WEAR MASKS WHILE PLAYING INDOORS.
    AS FAR AS FANS, INITIALLY EACH PLAYER WAS GIVEN 2 TICKETS FOR FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS BUT AS THE SEASON WORE ON WE INCREASED THE NUMBER TO 8 TICKETS PER PLAYER.
    YOUR ASSOCIATION HAS HAD PLENTY OF TIME TO PUT A CONTINGENCY PLAN IN PLACE TO HELP PREVENT THE SITUATION THAT NOW EXISTS FOR THE ATHLETES OF HAWAII.
    IT TEARS ME UP TO WATCH HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES BEING PUNCHED IN THE GUT CONTINUOUSLY.


  9. Opinion August 4, 2021 5:33 pm

    rhfbch
    Appreciate the info. Props for putting the kids first. But that obviously takes effort and commitment on the part of the administrators and faculty, something the DOE Has demonstrated over the last year and a half that they aren’t willing to do for our kids.


  10. SickofdisBS!! August 4, 2021 6:00 pm

    Start an outside league that’s not associated with the schools !! It’s politics whether you like it or not and it’s sickening .


  11. Take action August 4, 2021 9:08 pm

    People of Hawaii is so passive and laid back they will accept whatever mandate or directive that is imposed on them. Speaking up and opinions fall on deaf ears and changes nothing. For it or against it mauna kea “Ku Kia”i Mauna” was a perfect example of how action instead of talking can make a difference. A class action law suit should be filled against the DOE for going against our constitution by mandating the vaccine.


  12. rrforlifebaby August 5, 2021 8:15 am

    Thank you rhfbch for your input!!!

    Goes to show how inept the people that run the OIA and the DOE (State) are!

    rrfl!!


  13. NEXT MAN UP. August 5, 2021 8:46 am

    RIDICULOUS!!! The powers to be are jeopardizing all high school sports because a few student athletes have tested positive. That is insane. The student who tested positive serve your required quarantine period and the next man up will take your place. Isn’t that what athletics is all about. When your starter goes down, next man up.
    There have been instances in the MLB, NBA and even the Olympics where athletes have tested positive. Their slot was taken over by the next man up. They did not cancel or delay the entire season or the Olympics!
    For the powers to be who are making this decision to push back football until 9/24/21. Are you clueless. That would require the student athlete to do conditioning all over again which takes us into October before the first game is played. Usually that is when OIA playoffs have started pre covid.
    Powers to be-do your job right OR next man up.


  14. wowser August 5, 2021 11:49 am

    “but at least we can have a full season with no cancellations if we adhere to these new mandates”…

    I think Coach is missing the fact that if anyone tests positive that the team will still need to quarantine i.e. game cancelled or postponed. Then, of course they wont have games then until after October 8th now… So, that means that you have very little time. There will be a season.. But Boys VB had a one game season this year. yikes.

    Also, just because someone is vaccinated doesn’t mean that they cant get this delta variant. They may need to end up testing twice weekly too.


  15. Just need common sense.. August 5, 2021 12:52 pm

    Perhaps they could allow the kids who are already vaccinated to be able to continue to practice? The shots been out since May for kids over 12yrs…


  16. Opinion August 6, 2021 6:02 am

    Paul Honda,
    Hearing that University Lab School is still gonna play in an upcoming volleyball tournament. They fall under the DOE. Last season when the ILH moved volleyball to the spring, Lab school was the only program not allowed to play. Would you know why they are being allowed to play now while the rest of the DOE schools have been shut down? Mahalo


  17. ILoveHawaii August 6, 2021 9:19 am

    Wow.

    Opinion acting like Tekashi right now.
    Snitches get Sandwiches.


  18. Opinion August 6, 2021 10:16 am

    ILoveHawaii

    Asking a question is snitching? Shat da hell up


  19. ILoveHawaii August 6, 2021 10:49 am

    Add internet tough guy to snitching.

    What is your purpose for asking that question?


  20. Tokotoko August 6, 2021 1:21 pm

    @ Opinion: Yeah, heard about them not having a season last yr and not being able to compete against the rest of the ILH Div II teams. Word has it, that was a very talented team that could’ve won the Div II title. It would be unfortunate if they weren’t able to compete in the ILH again this yr.
    Hoping for the best for ALL the student athletes in Hawaii.


  21. Opinion August 6, 2021 3:29 pm

    ILoveHawaii
    Wasn’t aware this was a forum for snitching smh. Maybe there’s exemptions. More power to any school that has the opportunity to continue competing. You got some serious issues, feel kinda sorry for you actually.


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