Lahainaluna High School coaches helping students aspiring to play college sports
LAHAINA — The senior year of every high school student-athlete is usually a joyful conclusion to years of emotion-packed dedication to their chosen sport. But with the cancellation of fall and winter sports two weeks ago by the Maui Interscholastic League due to the COVID-19 pandemic — coupled with the scrapping of the spring slate earlier in the year — the senior year of competitive athletics for hundreds of Valley Isle teens has been wiped out.
Maui’s interscholastic season for football, basketball, wrestling, soccer, canoe paddling, swimming/diving, cross country, girls volleyball, bowling, cheerleading, air riflery, JV softball and JV baseball have been wiped off the slate.
The spring sports that were cancelled earlier in the year include baseball, golf, softball, tennis, track and field, judo, surfing, girls water polo and boys volleyball.
Four-time defending state champion Lahainaluna co-head football coach Dean Rickard has advised the Luna seniors to stay in shape, do well academically and to stay mentally and physically prepared should that opportunity arise.
“As coaches, we have always supported our players who have a desire to play collegiately, and we will continue to push in that direction,” he said.
The Luna football seniors include Esekielu Kalai Storer, Tre Rickard, Cyrus Freitas, Trevan Tihada, Nico Knickerbocker, Ekolu Mathias, Neil Agbayani, Sky Smith, Roger Luna, Nicki Liwanag, Hector Murillo, Kevan Murillo and Shawn Abut, William Casco, Lita Kaufononga, Matai Mataafa, Julian Armstrong, Austin Saribay, Hookipa Sakalia and Taai TJ Galoia.
Coach Rickard reports that eight of these seniors have expressed an interest in continuing their playing careers in college.
On the hardcourt, Lady Luna basketball coach Todd Rickard has guided the program for 27 years and has held a tight grip on the MIL with 16 straight championships and a state title in 2010.
“We’re trying to help the senior girls out as much as we can and wish we could do more to help move the situation forward. We just wish them well,” he said.
The Lady Luna seniors include Ira Baguyo, Alea Kimokeo, Ashley Akamine and Abbey Akamine. Coach Todd noted that all four have plans to continue their education and play basketball in college.
On the boys’ side of the court, head coach Nick Webb reports that three standout seniors have definite plans to continue competing at the collegiate level — the question is whether it will be basketball or football for the all-star trio.
“It is with a heavy heart that we will not get to witness them compete this season, which they have been longing for,” said Coach Nick.
Tre Rickard was poised to lead the team this season as a standout on the court and the gridiron. He has aspirations to go to college or a college prep school after graduation.
Big Sam Kahaialii, a 6’8″ center for the Lunas, also was a football standout and hopes to continue his education and playing career in college.
TJ Galoia was also a two-sport standout and all-star selection with plans to pursue a college education.
“This a real bummer, especially for the seniors. To not be given an opportunity to achieve your long-term goals — or just to participate — in what I believe is the toughest, most demanding sport mentally and physically is heartbreaking,” said Lahainaluna wrestling coach Todd Hayase.
The seniors from the perennial MIL champion and state top six team include Cyrus Freitas, Nalani Kirkman, Kanoa Lanoza, Matai Mataafa, Dawson Nolasco, Fayannie Rosario, Laie Tancayo, Jerry Torricer and Cael Yasutake.
Kirkman, Lanoza, Nolasco, Rancayo and Yasutake have expressed plans to attend college or business schools.
Luna swimming coach Tom Popdan listed three seniors on the team — all with plans for furthering their education and competition careers.
They are KJ Beam, Jorden Beam and Jaden Yip.