KIF coaches teach players what’s really important

Basketball is the furthest subject on Kaua‘i High School boys’ basketball coach Ipo Yoshioka’s mind, and he admitted as much in a conversation with The Garden Island Saturday afternoon.

Yoshioka, whose been the Red Raiders’ coach for nearly 20 years, would typically be getting his players revved up for the forthcoming 2020-21 basketball season, but now finds himself practicing what he emphasizes to his players during practice: family first.

Talking to Yoshioka was beyond refreshing in a day and age when youth sports has become nearly a $20 billion a year industry, and the exponential growth of the business of sport has coaching at every level a bottom-line, win-first business.

Even at the high-school level, there is pressure to win. There is pressure from the administration, the parents, the fans and the community to produce results.

What is amplified by the pressure to win is the students competing for precious and limited scholarship opportunities to not only extend their careers but also pay for their educations.

Let’s face it — the reality is the majority of players that have good high school careers will have only that.

It’s an accomplishment to even make it onto a college roster in any sport, whether it be small college, junior college or major college. None of those roster spots are easy to get, and rest assured players are competing for every place on a team.

This makes the bottom line in sports even more paramount.

It’s understandable why the sports machine has become the way it is on every level, on-island and on the mainland.

We, after all, created this machine.

What is refreshing about Yoshioka’s approach is that it is sincere.

He and every one of the other Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation coaches have preached putting family and education ahead of their active lives, and they mean it.

Kapa‘a Micah Furtado is another coached who echoed Yoshioka’s sentiment.

Early in the season, The Garden Island was working on a feature piece, and he gracefully decided not to be written about, because the story was slated to come out right before the season was “suspended indefinitely” by the Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association.

This type of self-awareness is a great lesson for our island kids, and an experience they will absorb way after their playing careers are over.

All of the KIF coaches have put teaching their kids values over a win-at-all-cost mentality.

It’s true the multiple lessons learned from participating in sport can be valuable life lessons they take with them far beyond their playing days.

Today is an ever-evolving world with uncertainly around every corner, surrounding the unavoidable events surrounding this outbreak.

Through it, all the coaches at the KIF continue to practice what they preach, and in this day and age when sports at every level is a cutthroat industry, it’s refreshing to see our island hasn’t lost sight of what’s important — teaching the kids to have a value system.

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Jason Blasco, sports reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or jblasco@thegardenisland.com.

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