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County Council honors final round of KIF athletes

Shelly Samio, in her first year as the head coach for Kapa‘a High School softball, was named as the Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation Coach of the Year.

That was just one facet of the achievements for the Warrior softball team which was honored by the Kaua‘i County Council during its regular meeting, yesterday.

The Warrior team was joined by the Waimea High School boys volleyball team, the reigning KIF champions in that sport who finished fifth in the recent Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association state tournament.

“I’m proud of what they did,” Samio said. “A lot of people didn’t think we would make it this far.”

Kapa‘a started its bid for the HHSAA Division II title with a play-in game and en route to the third place finish, upset the No. 4 and No. 2 seeds before settling at third place.

“Essentially, we were No. 12 because of the play-in, and we went on to rise to No. 3,” said Eric Fujimoto, one of the Warrior coaching staff and statistician for the team.

The Warrior wahine finished with Samio being named the KIF Coach of the Year, placing two players, Leeanna Baltazar and Lokelani Manaku, on the KIF all-stars and had Jocelyn Enrique selected to the all-tournament state team.

“All the girls helped,” said Enrique, who plans on trying out for the University of Hawai‘i team. “I’ve been playing for three years and we never did better than third in the KIF. Third in the state is good.”

Samio credits the seniors on the team as being the glue that held the team together.

“The younger players looked to them whenever they got in trouble,” Samio said. “The seniors held the team together and I’m going to miss them. But I told them, ‘Whatever they choose to do, to go the right way. There are a lot of ways, but just go the right way.’”

Tony Magaoay, coach for the Waimea High School boys volleyball team, acknowledged the help of his coaching staff which included coaches from the junior varsity program.

The Menehune placed five of its members on the seven-player KIF all-stars, including Kevin Chiba, whom Magaoay said was one of the shortest blockers at the states, but was blocking with strength.

Other players on the KIF all-stars included Quinn Gonsalves, Jared Matsumoto, Aaron Vea and Keelan Sakuda who was named the KIF Player of the Year.

Additionally, two of the Menehune were students from Ke Kula Ni‘ihau O Kekaha.

Waimea finished fifth out of 12 teams in the HHSAA Div. II standings.

“The night before the KIF championship game, I told the players to fall asleep on their left side so they would wake up on the right side with the right frame of mind,” Magaoay said.

Ron Kouchi, who sponsored both commendations, said the true measure of the team and its athletes is what you do after being knocked down, and both teams came back, even after heart-breaking losses, to win.

“They’re all winners, inside,” Kouchi said.

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