Sweat equity builds athletic field

Derek Borrero couldn’t describe the feeling he got as he enjoyed a cup of coffee and surveyed the work before him.

Borrero, the head coach for the Kaua‘i High School football program, was absorbing the scope of work that had been accomplished by a corps of volunteers over the weekend at the school’s athletic field.

Lori Koga, the Red Raider Junior Varsity team’s business manager, said more than 75 volunteers turned out Saturday and 35 Sunday to work on refurbishing the athletic field behind the school’s gym.

Coordinating between the volunteers — many of whom are parents of players — the school administration and the coaches, Koga said the work was being done with the help of a $25,000 grant from the Hawai‘i 3 R’s program.

“They provide the money for the materials, and we have to come up with the workers,” she said.

The 3 R’s program was started by Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawai‘i, to help schools in Hawai‘i repair, remodel and restore its facilities.

“It started back in December when Craig Koga and I were sitting on the steps of the gym, looking at the field,” Borrero said.

While browsing through the Internet, Lori stumbled upon the 3 R’s Web site and discovered that it was what they were looking for.

But time was against them, and they barely had time to put together a rough proposal before the deadline for application submissions.

That proposal included refurbishing the field, installing an irrigation system, and generally upgrading the eroded condition of the field to make it more friendly to the students.

“Keith Burgess, the school’s trainer, was here Saturday and said the former field was compacted and uneven,” Lori said. “He liked the idea of getting everything evened out and grassed in. That will help not only the football players, but the school’s physical education classes who use the field, too.”

Additionally, with the work being done, a full-sized 100-yard football field will occupy the area behind the gym.

“Remember the old ‘H’ goalposts?” Craig asked. “Well, it’s no more. We have new regulation goalposts coming.”

Lori said trenching for the irrigation system was done Saturday, and with the help of personnel from the Puakea Golf Course, the irrigation system and backflow heads were put in. In addition to the irrigation system, new hydration systems were also installed to supplement the existing system.

“The boys used to drink out of a garden hose, or sometimes water jugs,” Lori said. “Now, they have new water stations that have four heads where they can drink from.”

But not all the work was limited to the field. Lori said the army of volunteers headed by the coaches also attacked the koa that was overgrown outside the school’s perimeter fence.

“The koa was stopping the wind,” she said. “The cemetery people liked the fact we did the work outside the fence.”

The resulting work yielded not only a flow from the tradewinds, but a view that overlooked the cemetery leading to Kalapaki Bay.

“All of this stems from the coaches,” Lori said. “They were here for more than 12 hours on Saturday, and they’re here on Sunday to help with the work.”

Lori said although most of the labor came out over the weekend, the coaches had started preparing for the family workday for months ahead.

“The boys see the coaches work, and they get in and work, too,” Lori said. “The boys need to come out and help take care of the field. I keep telling them, ‘If you take care of the field, it will take care of you.’ It also helps them build pride in their school since it’s their work that will make the field look good.”

Once the 3 R’s grant was approved, Craig worked with the school administration and coaches to coordinate the family work day.

Lori said Ross Shimabukuro, the athletic director, came out to watch the progress and help out.

“The list of people who contributed time and materials just goes on and on,” Lori said. “I’m afraid we might miss someone.”

Ralph Suniga, president of the Kaua‘i High School football boosters club, was excited that so many people in the community responded to the workdays.

This overwhelming support from the community is what sweetened Borrero’s cup of coffee early Sunday morning.

“We’re all doing it for the same reason,” Lori said. “It’s all about the kids.”

Borrero said while the field is settling in, his teams are working out at Isenberg Park, and will continue to do so until late July when school starts.

“Then, we’re coming home,” he said.

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