Finding the sports niche among the horses

The basketball players were surrounded by horses yesterday.

A lot of the basketball players were girls, and despite being ringed by pa‘u units readying for the 91st Kamehameha Day parade and ho‘olaule‘a, the girls from the Gee’s Angels bounced their balls on the asphalt surface of the Vidinha Stadium parking lot while passing the time.

“The players who are not participating in games this morning are all here,” said Cecil Gee, coach for the 3 G’s Nation basketball program that is playing its 13 and 15 and Under programs.

A little ways beyond the 3 G’s contingent, Alexis Vasconcelles peered from the cockpit of a child-sized dragster that was hitched to the back of a quad piloted by her mom, Cherie Vasconcelles.

“This is better than a horse,” she said. “And you don’t have to feed it.”

Alexis finished last week’s Garden Island Racing Association drag races in second place for her division, clocking an 8.73 second run down the quarter mile.

“There was some confusion, though, so she’ll be in a runoff during the July 6 races,” she added.

Alexis Vasconcelles is normally seen in the rodeo arena as a participant in both the Keiki and High School Rodeo and Kaua‘i All Girl Rodeo Association events. But yesterday, she was content to be scrunched in the tiny cockpit while mom pulled the dragster.

Behind her, Kristyn Vasconcelles led the contingent of red-shirted KAGRA riders that beamed with pride.

Kristyn Vasconcelles returned from the state rodeo on the Big Island as one of five Kaua‘i qualifiers to the national rodeo coming up July 20-29 in Springfield, Ill.

But in addition to qualifying for the breakaway roping event, she was crowned the 2007 Hawai‘i High School Rodeo Queen, joining Kalani Grace who was awarded Rookie of the Year honors at the state rodeo.

As the new Hawai‘i rodeo queen, Kristyn Vasconcelles will lead the Hawai‘i contingent into the arena at the national competition. Yesterday’s parade was a prelude to that honor.

As the day wound down, both the KAGRA unit and the 3 G’s Nation unit discovered glory outside their normal arenas, as it was deemed “tops” in the Private Mounted Unit, beating out the Aloha Riders. The 3 G’s Nation was awarded second place in the Walking Unit, their basketball antics surpassed by a hula halau presenting lei to spectators and parade participants alike.

“From here, it’s get-ready-for-Springfield time,” Cherie said.

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