Soldwisch: Plans now being formulated for sports in the 2020-21 school year
LAHAINA – Lahainaluna High School Athletic Director Scott Soldwisch has been a staff member at the West Side campus for some 30 years now but readily states that 2020 will be a year that will stand out in his memory for years to come.
“There is a surreal feeling that continues to this day,” said Coach Scott last week.
The 2019-20 school year ended abruptly two months ago as COVID-19 restrictions changed life and put an end to the spring sports agendas across the nation, including all Maui Interscholastic League schedules. Baseball, softball, track and field, volleyball and more saw their seasons end as the pandemic spread around the world.
Ingenious, heartwarming graduation ceremonies were held all across the state, including a drive-through event on the bypass highway below the Lahainaluna campus for the local grads.
The annual athletic banquet was scratched, however, and the team and individual honorees, particularly the senior student-athletes, and their accomplishments for 2020 were left unrecognized.
At the top of the list is the fourth straight MIL and Hawaii High School Athletic Association championships won by the Luna football team. The girls and boys wrestling teams and the Lady Luna basketball team also stood atop the MIL standings for 2020.
On the individual basis, wrestling standout Nanea Estrella, with four state gold medals, and running back Joshua Tihada, a mainstay on those four state championship football teams, were both inducted into the prestigious HHSAA Hall of Honor.
Looking forward, Soldwisch reports that plans for the 2020-21 school year are being formulated now. He joins former Lahainaluna A.D. and current MIL Football Director Joe Balangitao Jr. and Maui High’s Mike Ban on a statewide committee that is finalizing a revised athletic calendar and working on return to play protocols. That schedule is abbreviated to allow for potential shutdowns and/or a late start to the athletic or school year.
“We are looking at several sources for return to play protocols, including CDC and NFHS guidelines. The final call on if, when, and how we return to play will come from the higher authorities in the DOE as well as state and local governments. We will be making recommendations and working with them,” he said.
“My advice to the students would be to continue to follow recommendations from the authorities while making your best effort to stay in shape and prepare for the next year. We are learning to be flexible and adaptable to the current situation. The student-athletes who are preparing while being flexible and adaptable will fare the best once we get going again.”
Coach Scott noted one change that will definitely be put in place will be the football team moving up to the Division I level. The move was initiated by the Luna coaching staff as they felt that, given the recent success of the team, that D I would be a better fit. A unanimous vote by MIL principals confirmed the move.
“There always have been cycles where several schools have had turns at leading the way in football, and I would expect that to continue in the future. Once the Kihei High School opens, it will be interesting to see how the alignment of the MIL changes. For now, Baldwin, Maui High and Lahainaluna will be D I, while Kamehameha Schools Maui and King Kekaulike will continue in D II,” Soldwisch concluded.