Year after year, this group of dedicated community members — formerly the Lahainaluna Athletic Booster Club — has stepped forward as a volunteer entity to organize and fund the annual banquet to honor and recognize the achievements of the school’s student athletes and their coaches.
Led by Coreen Serrano, the group includes Tanya Arakawa, Sharon Nohara, Kathy Kekahuna, Irene Kosaka, Merle Fujiwara, Charlene Ideta and Ivy Gatiuan.
“We work in conjunction with (Athletic Director) Scott Soldwisch to put this event on,” explained Nohara. “We just rally together each year and work with Scott to do this. We feel that it is important to recognize the athletes and the coaches.”
This year’s event took place at the Athletic Facility Pavilion on Sunday, May 15, with Lahainaluna High School Foundation President Rob Shelton serving as master of ceremonies.
Emcee Shelton noted the historic achievement of this school year by Lahainaluna in winning a record eight MIL championships.
The titles, which will be represented with bars on the “L” on Mount Pu‘u Pa‘u Pa‘u high above the campus, include titles in football, boys basketball, girls basketball, boys golf, softball, water polo, boys wrestling and girls wrestling. There were also strong second place finishes by the girls and boys tennis teams, and in surfing.
The feature awards for the evening included the Scholar Athlete of the Year presented by Principal Emily DeCosta to Kristen Fuller and Stephen Adolfson; the Most Distinguished Senior Athlete presented by A.D. Soldwisch to Gina-Bella Mata‘afa and TJ Rickard; and the Outstanding Athlete of the Year presented again by Soldwisch to Maiki Viela and TJ Rickard.
Most Valuable Player awards for the individual sports were presented by the coaches to the students as follows: baseball MVP Kona Medeiros presented by Gary Gaituan; boys basketball to TJ Rickard and Luke Williams by John Dudley; girls basketball to Maiki Viela from Todd Rickard; bowler KailiAnn Tuipulotu by Erik Jennings; cheerleader Jasmine Belkosky from Stacy Shibao; cross country runners Fernando Rodriguez and Koral Gill by George Watson; football offense MVP Joston Carbajal, defense MVP Mitchell Loewen and most outstanding player Teanu Rickard from Garret Tihada; golfers Chelsea Brink (by Lee Munemitsu) and James Horton from Sutee Nitakorn; boys paddler Justin Natividad by Kekoa Mowat and girls paddler Misty Branco from Joey Tihada; softball MVP Tricia Bonifacio by Lei Nakamura; boys soccer MVP Jorge Hernandez from Sam Aki and girls soccer MVP Kula Meyers from David Rockett; swimmers Joshua Gaastra and Jesselee Chapman by Tom Popdan; tennis players Kaila Nip and Jackson Britt from Macario Pascual; track and field athletes Shelby Liburd (from Ray Yamat) and Kai Aniban by Randy Casco; boys volleyball MVP Kaiea Rickard from Tommy Akima and girls MVP Tricia Kama by Hano Ganer; water polo award to Gina-Bella Mata‘afa from Will Hutchison; and girls wrestling to Mata‘afa and boys wrestling to Chanse Uyeda and Teanu Rickard by Todd Hayase.
A printed message on the back of the program from the Lunas For Life crew read, “ Mahalo to the coaches, parents, family, and staff of our student athletes. Your support and encouragement make Lahainaluna athletics no ka ‘oi. Imua Lunas!”
This year’s top athletes include (from left) Kristen Fuller, Gina-Bella Mata‘afa, Stephen Adolfson, TJ Rickard and Maiki Viela.