KAPA‘A — Three Kaua‘i teams and three Kaua‘i girls are part of an international tradition.
Championship games for the United (no affiliation with the airline) Softball Tournament are scheduled to begin starting at 11 a.m. at two fields at the New Kapa‘a Ball Park and at the Wailua Houselots Park.
“This is after the single-elimination semifinals which starts at 8 a.m.,” said Allen Kaauwai of California, yesterday.
Kaauwai, who admits to have a “direct connection” to the Kaauwai ‘ohana on Kaua‘i, said he has been coordinating the international softball tournament for the past 29 years, rotating through the Islands.
“In fact, the very first tournament which was through the Pan Am Games, was held on Kaua‘i,” the California gentleman said while enjoying the shade of a quick-tent at the New Kapa‘a Ball Park. “But when Pan Am closed, the teams still wanted to come over so we just kept the tradition going.”
The tournament consists of three divisions — two co-ed divisions and an all-men division. Kaauwai said this year’s tournament which started Monday features a team from Canada, the Canadian Crew, teams from Australia, the United States, and three teams from Kaua‘i.
BYOB is made up of people from the Department of Agriculture, Kaauwai said. Then, there’s Pohaku, a team from Kapa‘a, and of course, a Kaauwai ‘Ohana team. But beyond the three teams, he said there is an international co-ed team that invited three of Kaua‘i’s girls to play with them.
Turquoise “Toto” Santos manned firstbase for the Redbacks, Cherie Paleka anchored thirdbase and Jackie Alapai covered leftfield for the team that includes players from California, Canada, Australia and Kaua‘i.
“We love coming here,” Kaauwai, who is in his last year coordinating the tournament, said. “We just offer the teams a good week’s vacation and a chance to play softball. We use local services, too, because Monday we had a barbeque at Lydgate, last night we were at the Smith’s Tropical Paradise lu‘au, and we end everything at the Hilton with the awards banquet.”
Over the 29 years the teams having been traveling to Hawai‘i, Kaauwai said there have been some modifications to the rules, but that was done in the interest of safety.
As an example, men playing on co-ed teams need to hit on the opposite side.
“We don’t want to change the rules,” Kaauwai said. “We just modify them so the game doesn’t change, but everyone is protected.”
Once the championship games are settled, Kaauwai is ready to hand the reins over to a close friend — Stephen Wilson, who will captain the squads to Hawai‘i next year.
“I’ll always be involved,” Kaauwai said. “But it’s time for the young people to learn how we’ve gone through 29 years of success, and how to continue the tradition.”
In evolving with the dynamic changes taking place in the sport, one member of the Canadian Crew said the games are on video blogging by visiting johnnyo.tv.
“We’ll have the banquet video blogged live,” he said. “Just visit the site. It’ll be like being there.”