LAHAINA - There's just something special about a Lahaina man - especially if he is a former Lahainaluna High School wrestler.
Terry Shibao grew up in the molten lava heat of the West Side and steeled an intense love of wrestling on the mats of Lahainaluna. He was a two-time Maui Interscholastic League champion at 205 pounds and a member of the Hawaii National Team in 1986 that traveled to the Orient for the Japan Tour.
Shibao was also a four-peat champion in freestyle wrestling at the Aloha State Games and went on to compete on the Division I level at Washington State University.
The team includes (from left): back row — Kaeo Kanemitsu, Shayla Kanemitsu, Luis Miranda, Kahealani “Tita” Mano-Kapu, Davyn-Lee Ching, Jordan Shibao and Saje Kanemitsu; middle row — Kainalu Kapu, Kai Mairino, Isaac Emeson, Noah Garcia, Ezekiel Kanemitsu, Jack Hussey and Faiva Fonohema; front row — Gustavo Garcia, Shaadi Brands, Bryce Bishaw, Cailee Cuaresma, Shaeyanna Ching and Hunter Cuaresma.
He returned to the Islands after graduating from WSU with a degree in engineering and started a photography business called Imaging Plus. During this time his interest in wrestling never waned, and he soon found himself back on the mat at Lahainaluna coaching the heavyweights on the Luna team.
His mentor and friend, Kim Ball, is a driving force of Maui Style Wrestling and at Lahainaluna, so Shibao maintained his connection to the sport behind the leadership of his former coach.
"Kim Ball does so much for the youth of Maui with his contributions to the sport," beamed Shibao last week. "His experience enriches the programs here on Maui and on the West Side. I just hope I can perpetuate his effort."
To move the wrestling program in Lahaina forward, Shibao formed the Lahaina Red Raiders wrestling club.
"The Lahaina Roughnecks (the youth wrestling program led by Conrad Bolor that practices in the Lahainaluna facility on campus) club had become so big that safety issues began to surface," Shibao explained. "It was so crowded that kids were falling onto each other and into the walls, so we decided to start another club."
That was three years ago, and today the Lahaina Red Raiders boasts 32 youths on its roster and a new mat purchased through fundraisers and a big dip into the Shibao family bank to cover the $12,000 cost of buying and shipping the regulation wrestling mat.
"The kids deserved better than practicing on fold-out exercise mats," said Shibao. "Boy, you should have seen their faces light up when we first got that mat onto the cafeteria floor at King Kamehameha III school this year. They were ecstatic!"
"Our program has grown every year, and this year we had two state champs," he continued. "But really, we just want to create a fun environment of participation, where kids can have camaraderie and a family feeling. We give out participation medals to all of the kids and emphasize the team/family side of club sports. They are great kids and, actually, I think they have helped shape me as a person more than I have to them. It's great!
"I just want to send our gratitude to our coaches, Gerald Ching, Jay Cuaresma, Venus Bravo, Po'omai Keola and Cesar Garcia, along with our other coaches Neil Nakata, Zane Monteleone and Coach Snyder (all longtime Lahainaluna and Roughnecks leaders), who give selflessly year in and year out to the youth programs; to Darnell Shepard of Aloha Self Storage for donating a place to store their new mat; and to Principal Steve Franz and the staff at King Kamehameha III Elementary School for allowing us the opportunity to use the cafeteria for practice. Thank you also to the parents of our wrestlers, the Lahaina community and to Uncle Bob Kawaguchi and the Lahaina Hongwanji for their support of Lahaina Red Raiders wrestling," he concluded.