Tuesday, May 17, 2022 |
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WAILUA — Kaua‘i Police Department Lt. Sherwin Kaleo Perez said he was honored to be in a room filled with some of the greatest sports minds Kaua‘i has to offer.
Perez was one of five keynote presenters who addressed coaches of many different sports at a variety of levels during the Aston Aloha Beach Resort Sports Appreciation luncheon, Thursday.
Ray Blouin, manager of the Aston Aloha Beach Resort, pooled his resources from all the Aston properties on the island to host the first-ever gathering of coaches and athletic directors for the work they do in shaping Kaua‘i’s future through its keiki on the sporting fields.
“Coaching is a huge part of the community,” Blouin said. “While putting this list of coaches together, there were more than 400 names. We ended up sending 250 invitations, and you can be sure, we’ll be planning to do more of these in the future.”
Blouin said the luncheon was to express the appreciation the Aston family has for not only sports, but for the work that oftentimes goes unnoticed by the coaches who work with the players.
“As a referee, we run with the kids,” said Mike Faye, a keynote speaker speaking from an official’s standpoint. “Coaches do a good job staying with the kids and dealing with the issues. After the game is done, we go home. It’s the coaches who have to deal with the issues of losing, or winning.”
Faye said one of the reasons why youth turns to athletics is to be part of something, and good coaches make a difference.
Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., in extemporaneous remarks, said coaches have played a role in his life to the extent he runs his administration similar to a football coach on the field.
“Coaches play an important role in young people’s lives,” Carvalho said. “A coach is someone who is there to help and support when sometimes, mom and dad are not there.”
Perez, a longtime community coach, said it is in the nature of police officers to want to help, and coaching is one of the ways police officers can help the community.
“Police officers are sports fanatics,” Perez said. “Many were former sports participants and discovered sports was positive and good for growth.”
The police lieutenant said sports offers police officers opportunity.
“There are opportunities to deal with high-risk youth who view coaches as second parents,” Perez said. “Coaches help youth achieve their goals, but can also help parents who approach them with family problems.”
But coaching also puts pressure on the officers who become role models and must maintain high standards of behavior.
George Costa, director of the county’s Office of Economic Development, said having the sports luncheon was a great idea to celebrate and honor coaches.
He said the county is working with several sports programs including the Kaua‘i Challenge volleyball tournament which was initiated by Rich Roberts, then the head volleyball coach for Kaua‘i High School.
Since its inception, The Kaua‘i Challenge has grown to 24 teams, 12 from the Mainland and the remainder from the Outer Islands, creating an economic impact on Kaua‘i.
The Kaua‘i Marathon will be celebrating its second running on Kaua‘i, and for this year, has a $15,000 purse to be shared among athletes accomplishing the course within a specified time.
Costa said the Kaua‘i Economic Development Strategies has Sports and Recreation as one of targets, envisioning the construction of a large multi-function facility to attract more of the large tournaments.
KPD officer Darla Abbatiello-Higa said she was called on to speak as a parent, and the first athletes she thought of were two who recently were victims of auto accidents.
“No matter where we go on this island (as police officers), we will run into either an athlete or parent of Kapa‘a, Waimea, or Kaua‘i High School,” Higa said. “When we lose an athlete, we see families suffer every day.”
Higa said the overwhelming support demonstrated by coaches and players who turned out in their uniforms during the funerals of the young victims helps the family with healing, although at the time, they may not realize it.
“What makes me happy as a parent (of Jordon Dizon) is watching how happy everyone else is that Jordon is in the NFL,” Higa said. “I have a son in the NFL.”
Ron Wiley, the on-air radio personality for the KONG Radio Group, volunteered his time to emcee the event, Blouin said, and among the sports greats, councilman Dickie Chang was chatting with community coaches between takes on the Wala‘au Show.
“We will definitely do this again,” Blouin said.
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