Wrestling approved by KIF

LIHU‘E — For 22 years Ray “Coach Mac” Pigott has been trying to make wrestling a high school sport on Kaua‘i. Now he’s $7,000 away from making it a a reality.

The Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation Executive Board has agreed to offer wrestling as a regular high school sport beginning in the 2012-2013 school year if a fundraising goal is reached before May 21, a release from the KIF states.

“This will bring us in line with the rest of the state and nation,” Pigott, a wrestling coach in Waimea, said. “Kaua‘i will be offering our students the same opportunity that is so standard across the country.”

Due to budget constraints that have made funding existing sports a challenge, the KIF agreed to fund the sport if the necessary equipment was purchased through fundraising efforts, state Rep. Derek Kawakami, D-14th District said in the release.

“The biggest expense is the mats and the transportation costs to get the mats here,” he said.

Kawakami said the total cost of the equipment is about $40,000. The KIF agreed to pay half of that cost, Kawakami said, and through fundraising and donations, only $7,000 is needed to place the order for the mats.

In a letter, Kawakami said high school wrestling has grown dramatically across the country over the last 10 years and he’s made it a goal to bring the sport to Kaua‘i.

“I have made this a priority,” he said, “too see that Kaua‘i finally gets what all the other islands in the state of Hawai‘i have been privileged to have. A sport that builds self-confidence, teaches perseverance in the midst of adversity, teaches humility, provides a safe haven and instills the responsibility and values of ohana.”

Pigott said over the years wrestling has almost made its way into the KIF schedule several times — only for the bid to fail in one way or another.

He said after years of coaching local wrestlers, who in some cases left Kaua‘i for other islands to pursue the sport, he is excited for the opportunities the sport will give local youth.

“It’s a college sport and every single year Hawai‘i has students earning scholarships,” he said. “It can help them continue into secondary and higher education.”

For more information about high school wrestling on Kaua‘i, contact Ray Pigott at 639-8858.

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