In just a few days we’ll be celebrating my favorite holiday, Veteran’s Day, as the Big Dog will be hosting a 5K run/walk starting in the parking area of Coconut Island in Hilo.
Veteran’s Day is a chance for the community to say thank you to the many men and women who have served their country.
One such patriot is Jerry Chang who joined the Army in November 1967 and was a Special Forces Medic with the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) before being honorably discharged as a Sergeant in 1970.
“I got out of the Army on a Friday and the very next Monday started civilian work as a Surgeon’s Assistant at the North Carolina Memorial Hospital in Chapel Hill,” Chang said. “Chapel Hill is a pure college town and the home of the Tar Heels. The entire community and economy is dependent on the College.”
Chang was born and raised in Hilo, growing up in Pahala for the first six years of his life where he was temporarily ‘hanaied’ by his Aunt and Uncle Quitoriano.
“My first organized sport was biddy boxing at the age of 10 under Coach Jack Matsui, who also was my baseball and basketball coach,” Chang said.
Through his involvement in youth sports Chang traveled to Los Angeles with an all-star baseball team at age 12 and his interest in sports blossomed as a result.
“While at Hilo Intermediate School I was on the long distance track team where I held the record for the 440 yards and at Hilo High I was on the track team as a hurdler and ran the 440,” Chang said.
Chang continued with his boxing under his uncle, John Chang, who ran the Wanderers Athletic Club.
“I also played football for Hilo High as a quarterback. I tried boxing and football at the same time, but had to decide on one or the other because it was during the same season. I chose football, but still loved the sport of boxing,” he said.
After high school Chang attended Mauna Olu Junior College on Maui and became the co-captain on the basketball team that played in the local senior league.
Following his military service Chang made his way back home and attended the University of Hawaii at Hilo where he became involved with student government and lobbied at the Legislature for student housing and funding for programs and facilities.
“My active involvement in student affairs was what got me interested in politics. I felt then and still do now that Hilo is a perfect College town, just like Chapel Hill,” he said.
Shortly thereafter Chang found himself working a session at the State Legislature for then Representative Andy Levin.
“I decided to run for Andy’s seat when he decided to run for the State Senate. Andy was a good role model and I admired his work ethics, communication skills, his healthy eating habits as well as his long distance running prowess,” Chang said.
The inspiration that Chang got from Levin led him to become a long distance runner and accomplish the mighty task of completing seven marathons (distances of 26.2 miles) with a personal best time of 3 hours and 15 minutes.
“After a motorcycle accident that left me with two less toes and a skiing accident that has caused problems with my knees, I now run just because I love it,” he said.
Chang will continue to run for fitness and to keep his weight down regardless of how slow he might be.
“During the legislative session I run in the mornings, when I don’t have to chair a hearing, and when at home in Hilo I take my dog ‘Kimo’ for a run around my neighborhood several times a week,” he said.
Chang will make time for regular physical exercise either before the day starts or in the evenings when the sun starts going down.
Being recently diagnosed with Gall stones, Chang has begun watching his intake of oily foods and eats lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Having served 22 years in the State House, Chang is currently the Chairman of the Higher Education Committee which provides him the opportunity to support the growth of UH Hilo.
“I find legislative work exciting and quite demanding during the session because of the many deadlines, constituent concerns, and the controversial issues. Like life itself the legislature is all about relationships, communication and persistence,” he said.
Chang has continued to give back to the community through his volunteer involvement in Toys for Tots Motorcycle campaigning, the Big Island Sports Hall of Fame, and the Big Island amateur Boxing Association which is currently being revived.
“One of the philosophies that helped me in my career is to be the best that I can be and to surround myself with people who believe in me, more than I do. It is because of people who believed in me that got me where I am today and I appreciate that much needed support that is required to do what we do,” he said.
Coming up on Thursday, November 11, Chang will be out to support the Big Dog’s Veteran’s Day 5K run or walk starting at 7:30 am from the entrance of Coconut Island. The entry fee is a canned good to be donated to the Hawaii Island Food Basket.
Post race refreshments will be provided by Jerry Chang and his friends.
“As a veteran I know the sacrifices and service of our servicemen and women and my participating in the 5K run is the least I can do to show my appreciation,” Chang said.
For more information on the Veteran’s Day 5K run/walk call 969-7400. And someday should you see a proud Vietnam Vet come strolling through Bayfront remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”
Email the Big Dog at email@example.com.
WONG STADIUM – Not many people can brag about having a football field in their front yard, but Brad Kaono, coach of the Hamakua Cougars can do just that.
Kaono is in his sixth year of coaching the West Hamakua Cougars Pee Wee football team and on Sunday they took to the field playing in the Big Island Pop Warner Football Conference Semi Finals Championship.
“I like coaching and I do it for the kids,” Kaono said. “Most of the kids grew up around me and have played football in my front yard as I have a full sized, 120 yard field.”
The Cougars went undefeated during the regular season and on Sunday beat the Wailoa Razorback 14-0, the second seed from East Hawaii, with the winner gaining the opportunity to play for the island championships.
“We did great today and it’s hard for me to acknowledge just one kid as football is a team sport,” Kaono said. “Nobody can do their job without the rest of the team.”
The Cougars scored both of their touchdowns on end around sweeps and they allowed their defense to do the rest in shutting out the Razorbacks.
The Pee Wee division feature kids between the ages of 9 and 12 with a weight limitation of 120 pounds at the beginning of the 10 week season and 130 pounds for the championships.
In the second Pee Wee game it was the Puna Panthers, winners of the East Division, matched against the Westside Eagles the number two seed from the West.
Puna, in their first year of competition under Coach Keven Lee, could not get their offensive moving and were shut out by the Eagles, 16 to 0.
“Our kids came to play today,” Eagles head coach Bo Waite said. “They worked hard on both sides of the ball and played well.”
Waite noted the key play of several of his youngsters as being instrumental to their success.
“Palama Lewis is our workhouse and played both sides of the ball,” Waite said. “Riggs Kurashige also played both offense and defense and is considered our go to guy.”
Waite also had high praise for Hiilawe Manoi who he considers a stud on defense.
“Hiilawe played great at linebacker, but I guess I should be calling her a studette,” Waite said with a wide grin.
Waite also had high praise for the Puna Panthers saying, “they’re a really good team that held us back from scoring. Hats off to them.”
Ten Pee Wee teams from around the island began the season with the top two Westside and top two Eastside teams advancing to the Play Off Semi Final Championships.
“I’ve been doing this for 24 years,” Charles Nahale, Big Island Pop Warner Football President said from the Wong Stadium Press Box.
“Throughout the day we are expecting between 1,500 and 2,000 spectators watching the four games,” Nahale said.
Nahale believes that the biggest challenges he faces each year comes from dealing with the adults.
“I enjoy the kids and the ability to provide a structured program for them to enjoy the sport of football,” he said. “These teams that are playing against each other today did not play each other during the regular season. We’re seeing the best on the Big Island.”
The second half of the day featured games in the Midget Division with the Waiakea Nakoa, winners of the Eastside, going against the number two Westside team, the Kohala Chargers.
Kohala, under coach Clyde Igarashi, came out from the start and poured on the offense on way to defeating Waiakea 34 to 14.
Despite the humid conditions Igarashi’s Chargers were able to mount a full throttled offense in making it to the Midget championship finals.
“We just had to get the feel for the game and once that happened our quarterback, Makani Kualii did the rest,” Igarashi said. “We’re basically a running team and we let our QB call most of the plays himself and our two running backs, Israel Victorino and Willie “Boy” Perez did the rest.”
In the final game of the day it was the Westside top seed, Kailua Raiders, bucking heads against the Eastside second seed in the Wailoa Razorbacks.
Raider’s eighth year head coach, Bryan Ellis, made it a clean sweep for the Westside teams as they rolled over the Razorbacks 22 to 6.
“We scored two touchdowns on deep post pattern plays over the middle,” Ellis said. “The same receiver caught both touchdown passes, Makana Ibanes, and our quarterback, Koa Ellis, ran it in for the other score.”
Pop Warner rules provide two points for the kick after touchdown and two points for a pass after touchdown. Only one point is awarded for a run following touchdown, according to Rules Official, Malia Lewis.
“It’s difficult at this age to kick an a point after touchdown, so we give them two points to encourage special teams to try kicking,” Lewis said.
The Big Island Pop Warner Football Championships will be held on Sunday, Nov. 14, at the Kealakehe High School starting with the Pee Wee Consolation game at 9 am., followed by the Pee Wee Championship Game between the West Hamakua Cougars and the Westside Eagles.
At 1 pm the Midget Consolation game will be held followed by the Midget Championship Game between the Kohala Chargers and the Kailua Raiders.
Gate fee is $3 for those 16 years and older and free to 15 and below.