Academics and athletics a fine mix in the KIF

  • Courtesy

    Several Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation wrestlers line up upon being recognized during senior day Saturday afternoon at Kauaʻi High School.

Historically, academics and athletics can be polarizing forces within the institution of education.

Several variables have contributed to this fact over the years.

In the realms of educational institutions, one significant factor always playing such a role is the time commitment they expect in both.

With the level of commitment it takes to succeed in both avenues, it’s always incredible to see the level of success the Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation student athletes have in both arenas.

Academics and athletics are emphasized in the KIF.

Seeing the outgoing seniors recognized at the 2020 KIF Wrestling Championships Saturday at Kaua‘i High School was refreshing.

Bright future

The seniors are more than proof that athletics is just a vehicle to provide youth with the tools necessary to succeed in the bigger game of life.

The list of accomplishments of the recognized seniors was more than impressive.

Every one of these kids recognized have goals and aspirations that are obtainable through the discipline they’ve acquired in their athletic pursuits.

Warriors on the move

Kapa‘a’s Lester Garcia’s plans include entering the U.S. Naval Academy, attending basic training in the Navy’s Nuclear Power School for two years, and learning how to be a Navy “nuke.”

Garcia’s teammate, Tessa Jensen, who has been one of the more accomplished wrestlers this season in the KIF, hopes to use her wrestling ability to help pay for her education.

Jensen is still mulling over offers, and plans on becoming a nurse after any athletic career is over.

The University of Hawai‘i of Manoa is where Joshweih Aguinaldo wants to go, to study psychology or biology.

The Warriors’ Jolette “Joji” Miner-Ho is currently looking at several athletic offers.

Miner-Ho plans on majoring in nursing, and aspires to move back home to serve the community of Kaua‘i in any way possible, her senior bio stated.

Warrior Kaz Espina plans to attend to Kaua‘i Community College and transfer to a mainland university to pursue a degree in computer programming.

Red Raiders progress

First-year wrestler Gaueu Silva-Cardenas plans on studying engineering at KCC.

Olivia Kelekoma aspires to be a graphic designer, either for a firm or in her own business.

Mason Stoll-Tolentino plans on entering the military and pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science.

Menehune excel

Waimea High wrestler Kylen ‘A‘ana plans to become an electrician.

Menehune competitor Kaya Akana is headed to the mainland to major in criminal justice.

According to her high school biography, she has captured 11 varsity letters — four in cross country, four in wrestling, a softball letter, and two letters in track and field.

A balancing act

All of these kids mentioned have specific goals, and through athletics and academics their teachers are harnessing them to do it.

Just look at the list of goals, and although many of them will change as they progress through life, they indeed have cultivated the discipline necessary to achieve them.

Coaches, educators and parents typically don’t seek praise for all of the hard work, dedication and sacrifices they’ve made to allow their kids to dream.

However, because of their sweat equity, it has allowed these kids to achieve and create the motivation necessary to excel in the grand scheme of life.

They can thank both athletics and academics for that opportunity.


Jason Blasco, sports reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or


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