From now on, if you hear cowbells at high school games, it won’t be a mystery as to who it is anymore.
It’s none other than Mrs. (Shirley) Parraga.
The die-hard Menehune athletic supporter was honored on Friday by past athletes, including Jordon and Taryn Dizon, Justin Estes, and Nelly Caberto, along with friends, family members, athletes, and administrators at Waimea High School.
“She sometimes knew more about my son than I did,” Dizon’s mom, Darla Abbatiello said.
Parraga, a longtime janitor at Kekaha School, was the mainstay for many athletes and friends, who grew up with the friendly smile and face.
“She was the nicest lady. She always acknowledged us and she’s just a special person,” Estes said. The former all-state goalie is now at Portland St., majoring in mechanical engineering.
“I love the kids and I love helping them out. I also like to watch them grow up and play sports. I remember all of their names and I make sure that they hear my voice in the stands,” Parraga said.
University of Hawai’i sophomore Kjell Newell mentioned that she was extremely supportive, especially when his mother Veronica passed on from cancer in October, 2005.
“She always made us feel special and she even took time to give me a Christmas present his year,” Newell said.
Taryn Dizon, now a Kiahuna Plantation Resort employee, remembers Parraga with her golf cart at Kekaha School.
“I just could always feel her support and anything we needed, she gave us. She’s also one of Jordon’s biggest fans,” Taryn noted.
Right before the informal ceremony began on Friday, Taryn’s mom, Abbatiello, let some tears flow down, as she introduced Parraga.
“I’m impressed by the fact that she’s at almost every game. It’s just so overwhelming the support she’s shown to us. I can’t thank her enough,” Abbatiello said.
Waimea senior Kenny Estes said that she’s always been there for the athletes and that ever since her Kekaha School days, she’s never changed.
Nelly Caberto, a vice-principal for Waimea High School, played alongside Shirley’s daughter, Terry Souza-Parraga in high school.
“There’s never been dull moment with her. She always makes you laugh and she even made me give birth early,” Caberto said.
Nelly mentioned that during labor, Parraga made her laugh so much and so hard that her water broke and she had to give birth a couple of weeks before the scheduled time.
But Parraga has great intentions, and as her daughter Terry noted, she’s a giver, not a taker.
“It’s an inspiration to see how caring and giving she is. She takes it upon herself to give back. She never expects anything in return,” Terry said.
Sports has played a big part in Mrs. Parraga’s life, especially since her husband passed away.
“Sports keeps her going. To me, it’s such a tribute to the kids and the way she supports them,” Terry said.
There’s been more than enough times when Mrs. Parraga has extended her hand to give to someone else, especially youths around the island.
“There was a time in Taco Bell where she saw a boy sitting by himself without food with all of his friends and she went up to him and gave him $20 to buy some food. That’s how caring she is,” Terry said.
Jordon Dizon, a starting linebacker for Colorado University, also shares the same sentiments as all who came in contact with Mrs. Parraga.
“She’s just a really special person and I’m glad that she’s a part of my life,” Dizon said.
Parraga, one of the biggest supporters of Waimea athletes, also has a big heart for the youths who have grown into responsible, respectful adults.
And about those cowbells. They’ll serve as a reminder as to a living sports treasure that resides on the island!
- Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or firstname.lastname@example.org.