Well, it’s that time again. Congratulations to the graduating class of 2019.
I’ve written many chapters during this past academic year, but now it’s time I write the final chapter in this book called “Kauai Interscholastic Federation 2018-19.”
To those of you whom I’ve had the pleasure of encountering and writing about as part of my work with TGI: thank you for all you’ve done for me, congrats to all on your achievements on and off the courts and fields, and I wish all of you well as you prepare for the next phase of your lives. I wish you continued success in your pursuits.
As I was preparing to write this column, I was wracking my head on how to write about this year’s graduating class from a new angle.
Then the thought popped. Rather than from me, I’d use the point of view that ought to know them best — the seniors themselves.
For some of their best moments I was fortunate enough to be around them and write about them. After a bit of digging, here are some quotes from the KIF’s seniors of 2018-19:
- Kapaa girls basketball player Jaliyah Casem after signing her letter of intent to Walla Walla University: “I just always knew basketball was my sport. It was just flowing. Going into high school, or even middle school, I just worked hard and believed in myself. With the help and support of my parents, coaches, friends and even God, especially God, I did what I do best. With everyone’s help, I’m here right now. I’m kind of speechless. I still shocked that I’m committed to a college.”
- Kauai boys cross country runner Kane Casillas after finishing ninth overall at states: “I mean, it’s not No. 1. A lot of people might not think it was a great race. But for me, it was the perfect race. Mentally, I was completely focused. Nothing was really stopping me. I wasn’t hurting physically, so I felt really good there. I knew what I wanted to do when I go to the race. I didn’t want to go too fast or too slow.”
- Waimea girls volleyball player Gabrielle Peleras after claiming her second KIF Player of the Year award: “With the competition and the girls getting better, I felt like there was going to be a much more difficult time getting that again. It’s not an easy thing to accomplish. There’s pretty much putting in blood, sweat and tears — conditioning yourself into playing hard and keeping it that way, and supporting your team and being there for them, and doing what you can to be a part of the team.”
- Kapaa boys volleyball player Rusdan-Rocket Ahuna after clinching a fourth straight league title on senior night: “The last four years at Kapaa High School has been the best thing of my life. It’s definitely helped me become who I am. I’m just really happy and thankful, and I’ll continue to say I’m thankful. Everything that has happened to me, it’s always been great. It’s something you really can’t buy.”
- Kauai softball player Justice Funamura-Sasil after signing her letter of intent to Highline College: “It’s truly an honor. It’s an amazing feeling. I finally have this weight off of my shoulders. I can finally breathe easy in saying that all of my hard work really did pay off.”
- Waimea baseball player Lacin Montemayor after hitting a home run in the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II state championship game: “I had two strikes. I just thought, ‘Brah, I just got to help my team and try to get them out of the slump.’ I saw an inside pitch. I turned on it, and that’s it, pretty much. I thought it one-bounced the fence, but it felt great.”
- Island School girls volleyball player Izzy Ancharski, the team’s only senior, after her senior night match: “I’m just really happy that my team is so supportive. And then, I’m just really sad that it’s my last year and it’s senior night. But I’m just happy that this is how it would end.”
- Kapaa football player Eli Unutoa after signing letter of intent to BYU: “I’m feeling really thankful for everybody that helped me get here. I know it’s just the beginning. My brother, he went through his process. Once you get on campus over there, what you did in high school, it doesn’t matter. You have to get to work and compete.”
- Kauai wrestler Jesse Cardenas after winning his bracket in the first tournament of the KIF season: “The pin was not easy, straight up. This guy, way more experienced than me. It’s my first year. But, hey, I just thank him so much. He’s helping me. My last year, going out with a bang. It’s just all in good fun.”
Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.