Sunday | December 10, 2017
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BIIF football: Kealakehe issues letter addressing on-field incident, changes to policy

KAILUA-KONA — In a response to an on-field incident two weeks ago after a Kealakehe football game, principal Wilfred Murakami issued a letter to players, parents and supporters of Waverider athletics informing them of a change in policy.

The letter lays out that the team’s practice facilities and the game field are now off limits and that unauthorized personnel — parents or otherwise — should not approach the coaching staff, especially during or after games. It also notes that all football decisions — including playing time — are at the discretion of head coach Sam Kekuaokalani.

“The incident that occurred two Saturdays ago on Sept. 2 leaves a blemish on our school and the community we represent that will not fade from memory,” Murakami wrote in the letter. “While I understand how the emotions of competitive athletics can escalate to a feverish pitch, the most valuable lessons to be taught are how to appropriately deal with challenging situations, manage one’s impulsively and persist to improve.”

Shortly after a football game ended on Sept. 2, a confrontation took place between a parent who had made his way out of the stands and a coach, later identified as offensive coordinator Haloa Paakonia, who has since resigned.

Almost immediately, police cars drove through the stadium gates to break up the escalating situation, which featured players, coaches and the parent in a verbal altercation. A crowd remained on the field for more than 30 minutes, and some stuck around until the stadium lights shut off.

In a follow-up phone interview, Murakami said that the guidelines had previously been in place, but the school had allowed some flexibility.

“It really wasn’t hurting anybody, so we allowed it,” Murakami said. “The violations were not by a whole bunch of people, just a few. What we want to do is reestablish the structure of keeping a safe environment for everybody. It is a DOE facility, so in that regard, there are guidelines we have to follow.”

Murakami also noted he believes that it was a “one time” incident and that the school will not let it happen again.

“We, as the adults and role models for the youth attending Kealakehe High School, must do a better job than what was displayed at half time and after the game,” he said. “We are the village raising our kids and they are watching and learning. We must all do better.”

It has been a long-standing tradition at high school games for family and friends to make their way onto the field after the game, especially for homecoming contests and senior night. Senior night is coming up Saturday for the Waveriders against Hawaii Prep, while homecoming will follow on Sept. 30 against Waiakea.

Murakami said he doesn’t want the restrictions to stymie any good-hearted attempts from Kealakehe supporters for the occasions. They will just have to follow the structure set in place.

“If a group of parents want to do something supportive, we just want them to go through athletic director Alan (Vogt) to clear it,” Murakami said. “What I don’t want is someone who has an issue or concern to go and not manage their impulsively correctly.”

 

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