UH breaks ground at ‘Ele‘ele

‘ELE‘ELE — The admiration and thrill was obvious in the more than 180 pairs of eyes and smiles at ‘Ele‘ele School yesterday.

The attention focused on Mel DeLaura, one of the strength and quickness coaches for the University of Hawai‘i, as he introduced the stars: UH wide receiver Davone Bess and defensive lineman Michael Lafaele.

DeLaura, a familiar leader at the Speed & Quickness clinics and programs here, was a featured facet of the ‘Ele‘ele School’s two-week health and career extravaganza that kicked off last week.

This is also the first time that DeLaura, through the efforts of Kaua‘i Speed & Quickness coordinator Roy Nishida, has brought the program to the elementary school level.

“The Speed & Quickness program is in all three of Kaua‘i’s public high schools, and at one of the three middle schools,” Nishida said. “This is the first time we’ve been able to get it to the elementary school level.”

In addition, “I’m working with the county’s anti-drug coordinator Theresa Koki to see if we can bring back the community clinics as well,” Nishida said.

The benefits of having UH athletes was obvious on the faces of the students. And having a local boy in Keali‘i Aguiar — the Westside Speed & Fitness coordinator, as well as the leader for the Waimea High program — helped bring the message home.

“I called Jon Kobayashi, the Waimea High School athletic director, and asked if he could send some of his coaches and players to be part of this event,” said Misty Tsukayama, the ‘Ele‘ele School event coordinator. “I guess Jon talked with Keali‘i and this is what we got.”

Between the exercises, there was time for Bess and Lafaele to break away for a quick photo with staff as well as autograph a football which teacher Leighton Kabutan indicated might be a future silent auction item.

Tsukayama said that planning the two-week event was a lot of work, but had to be done to help prepare the students for the transition to middle school.

On Wednesday, Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona is scheduled to be on campus with his Teach-In program along with members of the Lifetime Stand members from the Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center.

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