Coach encouraged by young Luna paddlers
LAHAINA — Over the last few years, canoe paddling in the Maui Interscholastic League has lost some of its steam, as schedule changes and holiday breaks have adversely affected the high school teams.
At Lahainaluna in particular, there has always been a number of boarding students on the paddling team roster that leave Maui for the holidays to miss practice and the opening regattas of the MIL season.
The 2009-10 Lunas were hit particularly hard. Coupled with several academic ineligibles, the team — thin to begin with — dwindled over the final weeks of the winter season and came up just short of state qualifying efforts.
The girls crew and mixed crew both finished in fourth place in the final MIL standings, while the boys crew was scratched from competition.
According to head coach Joey Tihada, the MIL paddling season was cut short this year due to scheduling issues and budget cuts.
“We began practice in early December and the season ran from Dec. 19 to Jan. 23, with one regatta cut from this year’s schedule,” he said.
“We had some grade problems, and we always lose people over the holiday break, but still I’m happy with how this young squad did overall and the effort they put out,” added Coach Joey, who was assisted by Mike Tihada, Kekoa Mowat and Teresa Marzan this season.
“I’m also grateful to Napili Canoe Club for letting us use their boats and equipment, and to all the families and spouses of the coaches for their support.”
The Lady Lunas were led by junior captain Alakahi Smith Kaukini, along with classmate Misty Branco, sophomore Kamalani Kaholokula and freshmen Tricia Kama, Kanoe Delatori, Lilinoe Kahae and Jordan Ruidas.
The boys team was led by senior captain Kyle Akazawa, and the roster included junior Ralph Sumida and freshmen Frances Jimenez and Mike Naganuma.
Coach Joey added that team officials are currently drawing up a proposal to purchase a canoe for Lahainaluna.
“We’re hoping that the Lahainaluna High School Foundation can help us with maybe half of the cost for a canoe for the school, and then we would take care of raising the rest,” he concluded.