Speakers make case for high school surfing

LIHUE — There may be some interest in getting surfing sanctioned as a high school sport, but you wouldn’t know it by the turnout at a special forum hosted by Kauai Board of Education representative Sherwood Hara on Thursday evening at the Wilcox School cafeteria.

“This is disappointing,” Tom Lockwood of Anahola commented about the poor turnout.

“I got excited after reading about this forum, and I’m here to support the idea even if my children are out of school.”

Hara hosted the special forum as a way of helping Kauaians offer their input into the subject of surfing as a high school sporting activity without having to incur the expense of travelling to Oahu to testify before the BOE.

“I thought there would have been more people,” Hara lamented as he reviewed the notes taken from Lockwood’s and Sophronia Diego’s testimony.

Daniel Hamada, Kauai schools superintendant echoed Hara’s sentiment, adding “I got a few phone calls from people who wanted to reconfirm the time and place, so I thought they’d be here.”

Lockwood, who has been surfing since he was six years old, provided Hara and DOE and KIF officials with photos showing how Point Loma High School in San Diego integrated surfing into their program through a club level competition program where surfers would compete on weekly heats to secure seedings for contests, while fundraising on their own to come up with needed equipment and uniforms.

Diego, a mother and “not a surfer” from Kapaa, also agreed that surfing should become a high school sporting event, noting how Andy Irons, a graduate of Kapaa High School, is currently enjoying the wave of success and fame while bringing recognition to the Islands.

“Surfing is our (Hawaii’s) gift to the world,” she said.

Diego, who shares child-raising responsibilities with her boyfriend, said she has seven children between the ages of 10 and 22 who surf, and has had to worry less about them getting hurt due to surfing, a point that was echoed by Lockwood who noted that the most serious injuries do not occur during surf meets.

Surfing also provides youth with an alternative avenue, lessening their chances of turning to drugs added Diego who reinforced this point by noting how her children who surf are selective about whom they associate with.

Diego noted that there may be drugs on the surf scene, but said they don’t come from the surfers because surfers on drugs won’t be able to “hack it” in the sport. Additionally, Diego said youth may not necessarily gravitate towards team sports because some athletes like the individual challenge surfing provides.

Also on hand for the forum were Diane Nitta, representing the Kauai Interscholastic Federation (KIF), and Waimea High School principal Bill Arakaki.

While a final decision on the matter won’t be coming before the Board until September, Hara is interested in securing input from his constituents who may mail testimony to him at P.O. Box 612, Hanapepe, Hawaii 96716.

Testimony can also be mailed to Hamada at 3060 Eiwa Street, Lihue, Hawaii 96766, or faxed to him at 274-3507.

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