Stars of Waimea’s past

LIHUE —The Waimea High School Menehune Booster Club will host its annual Menehune Legacy Hall of Honor banquet Saturday, April 4.

“It recognizes former players and coaches that have contributed to the legacy of the Big Blue Machine,” said Jon Kobayashi, the school’s athletic director. “As a young athlete, these are the men that made the stories of what our coaches would tell us about the former athletes and the history of Waimea. These are the guys that created that.”

This year’s class consists of four honorees: Carl Furutani, Romy Castillo, Richard Waalani and the late Rev. Melvin Campos. 

“First of all, I’m honored. I know there’s a lot more deserving people,” Furutani said, who graduated from Waimea in 1973 and played four years of varsity baseball for the school. “Waimea High School has always been a special place for me. It contributed to my development and growth throughout the years.”

Furutani went on to pitch for the University of Hawaii, and then served as pitching coach under former UH baseball head coach Les Murakami. He’s currently the associate director of student recreation services at UH.

“It makes me feel really good,” he said about receiving the recognition from his alma mater. “Honestly, there were athletes from the past did the same for us. They laid the foundation for us. I’m glad the tradition has carried throughout the years.”

Castillo graduated in 1969 and participated in track, basketball and football. While at Waimea, he medaled at the state track meet. He went on to play one season with UH’s football team as a cornerback and safety.

“It was a surprise. There are athletes that are deserving also, so I was surprised from that,” Castillo said about being recognized by the Menehune Booster Club. “With Waimea High School, it was a team. It’s not an individual that wins. Waimea taught us that it’s a team effort and that we weren’t looking for individual accolades.”

“It is a place that has good memories. I have to say it’s one of the places that tries to teach teamwork and doing the best that you can,” he added. “I enjoyed my stay there and it was a good environment to be part of.”

He currently is a social worker for the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Waalani graduated in 1961. He was Kauai’s first football player to receive all-state recognition in 1960 as a defensive tackle, offensive tackle and special teams kicker. He also participated in basketball and track and field for the school. He couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday.

He was known as “the humbled, gentle giant,” said booster club member Basilio Fuertes.

Campos graduated from Waimea in 1966. He went on to play Triple A baseball for the Washington Senators farm club. 

He was ordained as a pastor in 1992 and served in several churches on Kauai and in North Carolina. He served as disaster relief coordinator at Eleele Baptist Church when Hurricane Iniki struck the island. 

Campos died of cancer in June 2013.

“He is such a humble man. He would be so embarrassed. He doesn’t like being in the spotlight,” said Stella Shimatsu, sister of the late pastor, about if he was still around to accept the award. “I’m really honored for my brother to have this honor bestowed on him.”

“I think in a way, he looked to his past and it helped him become who he was as a pastor. He was very charismatic,” she added. “My brother, many times, brought out the best out of anybody.”

The banquet will begin at 5:30 p.m. on the school’s front lawn. Tickets cost $20 are will be available at will call the night of the event. 

Info: Kobayashi, 338-6810 ext. 175. 

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