LIHUE — The Waimea High School Menehune will host its first preseason game Saturday at Hanapepe Stadium at 2 p.m., which is business as usual for the Menehune this time of year.
What makes this game different is who they are playing.
The Menehune will play host to Ke Kula Kaiapuni O Anuenue, which is a Hawaiian language immersion program school on Oahu.
Anuenue’s players are coached in Hawaiian, the plays, blocking schemes and stunts are called in Hawaiian and the team is bringing its own announcer to announce the game in Hawaiian.
“This fits with the Hawaiian communities in Waimea and Kekaha,” said Charles V. Naumu, principal or pookumu at Anuenue. “A number of Waimea players are from Niihau families who speak Hawaiian.”
Sam Noeau Warner is a Hawaiian language professor at University of Hawaii at Manoa and will be taking on the announcing duties for the game.
Anuenue is a small,
K-12 school located in Palolo Valley. The total school population is 388. There are 72 students currently enrolled in high school, 25 of which are boys.
The Anuenue football team currently has 26 players on its roster, thanks in part to an agreement made with Halau Ku Mana Public Charter School that added six athletes to the Anuenue roster. On Saturday, Anuenue will dress 20 players to take on the Menehune.
In addition to the Anuenue players, there are several players on Waimea who have Niihau roots and some even attend charter schools on Kauai that focus on educating its students upon a culturally Hawaiian foundation.
“It will definitely be different from a normal game but it is unique to Anuenue High School,” said Waimea High School Athletic Director Jon Kobayashi. “When they travel, they have made it common practice to share their language. As a whole, this will probably be the first time that this has happened on Kauai.”
There will be football played on Saturday, which will feature two teams trying to prepare itself for their prospective seasons. But amidst the gridiron action, both Hawaiian culture and tradition will be on display for players and spectators.
“For me personally, it is a kind of homecoming,” Naumu said. “As principal of Anuenue School, Kauai is my family’s ancestral home. My father and many of my uncles have played for Waimea High School. We look forward to the game and its deeper meanings.”
• Rick Killeen, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or email@example.com.