For many who first get exposed to sports, their parent becomes their greatest influence. Such is the case with John Kai whose father was a huge influence on him and his siblings.
“Dad was a star athlete at St. Joseph High School and excelled in baseball and basketball and his love of sports rubbed off on all of us,” Kai said.
Kai Sr. was a multi talented athlete and coach who taught and coached at a variety of schools throughout the Big Island.
“He coached many youth teams, he also coached high school baseball and won the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Title for the Honokaa Dragons in 1977” Kai said. “In 1975-76 he coached the Kau Trojans High School baseball team and basically rebuilt that program from scratch, a real life ‘Bad News Bears’ story.”
As was common in most sporting families the Kai kids were always hanging around the gym, the baseball dugouts, attending practices and games.
“It gave us opportunities to watch the big kids play,” Kai said.
In high school, at Honokaa, Kai was active playing baseball and basketball and running cross country and he graduated in 1983.
“I played Varsity baseball as a freshman, but that’s not saying much because I could barely make the throw from 3rd base to 1st base during tryouts, so the coach, Rodney Botelho, placed me at 2nd base and I grew to become a decent baseball player. I made the BIIF All-Star team my Junior and Senior year,” Kai said.
“I could field, I was fast on the bases and I was part of the pitching rotation,” he said.
Kai went onto play varsity basketball in his junior year for the Dragons.
“I was thrilled when Coach Sunday Marcellino asked him to come out for the team.”
It was during one preseason tournament on Maui that the young Kai showed his value to the team.
“During our pre-season tournament I came off the bench and scored 25 points for the team. I didn’t follow any of the scripted plays, I just played and scored,” he said.
“Coaches weren’t happy but we won and I did make the all-tournament team,” Kai said.
Kai till this day admits to playing pickup games in Hilo in the 35 and older Men’s League where he is still a shooter.
“Funny thing is that all the older guys in the Big Island hoops community know that I won’t go left, never been confident or proficient with dribbling or shooting with my left hand but that doesn’t matter, I’ll keep going to my right, my strength till the day I die,” Kai said.
Kai uses the above as one of his life philosophies.
“Why bother working on a weakness when you can perfect strength?” he said. “You can always surround yourself with teammates, co-workers or employees who can complement you. If everybody works to their strengths there is never a downside.”
Kai became a financial advisor and has been in that profession since 1991 with Merrill Lynch and later moved to Paine Weber in 1999. Currently Kai works at Pinnacle Investment Group where today he manages $40 million of assets for numerous clients.
“The stress is tremendous due to the single fact that I’m working with intangibles like retirement planning, investing for growth or income and using instruments that are not even close to being within the realm of my control.” Kai said.
Kai has been married for 25 years to Lori, and together they have three children. Lori’s daughter Monique is 32 years old and played basketball and graduated from Hilo High in 1998.
Their son, Ian is 25 and a 2007 graduate of Kamehameha Schools-Hawaii where he played junior varsity basketball, volleyball, and baseball. Ian also ran cross country said a proud Kai in his freshman and sophomore years.
Today Kai stays active by playing in the basketball league for men over 35 where he is known as a shooter.
“It is known as pure play and the pickup games are great for instant cardio,” he said.
“It is also a great stress reliever for most. When you are on the court playing at game speed there is no time for day dreaming unless you want to get hit in the head with the basketball,” Kai said.
“It is pure play and since a score is being kept it brings out my competitive juices, I just love it,” Kai said.
At home Kai continues his exercise program using both the P90X and Insanity, not religiously, just when he feels sluggish and finds the need to get the blood flowing.
“On Thursday evenings and Sundays afternoon he plays basketball usually for about 1 to 2 hour depending on the length of the games. The rest of the time he does 2 to 3 days on the Insanity,” Kai said.
Kai does watch he eats.
“I try to stay away from carbs with very little rice and I’ll juice in the morning when I have the stuff available,” he said. “But every now and again I’ll pig out on a McDonald’s Big Mac meal with that special sauce.”
Kai still has exercise related goals today at age 47.
“I try to maintain a weight of 165 pounds and a BMI under 26,” he said. “I always pay attention when the size 33 pants starts getting a little to snug and when my head looks large than normal when I’m brushing me teeth in the morning.”
Here’s wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and someday should you see a slow moving man coming down 22nd Street in HPP remember to say ‘woof’ and “Never to Shy away from Running with the Big Dog.”
Keeping moving is the goal of any successful person and the secret to maintaining current weight and size according to Elizebeth Truesdell.
“I basically want to maintain my current size and shape like many women my age,” Truesdell said. “I wouldn’t mind losing some pounds and inches.”
“This is my 30th year in the classroom, 26th at Kamehameha,” she said. “I taught for 17 years at KS Kapalama and am my ninth year here at KS Hawaii.”
Truesdell finds that the workload can be overwhelming and stressful at times and that is why she needs to exercise to combat that stress.
“The paper load for English teachers is notoriously high,” Truesdell said. “It definitely contributes to the stress at work.”
The solution is simple for her students.
“Of course the students always say that I would have to work less if I assigned less work to them, but well that’s just crazy talk isn’t it?” she said with a wide grin.
She and Joel, her husband of 22 years, met in 1987 as new full time teachers at the Kapalama campus and they don’t have any children of their own.
“We enjoy borrowing our students and our cross country runners for the years we have them,”
Truesdell serves as an assistant coach for Kamehameha Hawaii girls cross country team and she will run with the team beginning with summer practice and through the season.
“As I age I am slowing down and experiencing more aches and pains,” she said. “Generally I can say to the girls, I’m middle aged, if you’re behind me you need to pick it up!”
While growing up Truesdell was not competitive in sports preferring to study ballet and jazz dance in upper elementary and middle school according to her.
“I took lots of swimming classes including long distance swimming,” Truesdell said. “I was so far down the volleyball squad in ninth grade that I don’t even think I had a uniform.”
Truesdell never considered herself an athlete while growing up.
“My younger brother was the competitive athlete in the family,” she said. “Many of my close friends from high school in Tacoma, Washington know that I was a late arrival to regular exercise.”
“It was a huge surprise to them that I got into running and eventually cross country coaching.”
During cross country season Truesdell will train with the team up to six days a week, but when out of season her exercise varies to some running, walking and some swimming.
“I will do aqua jogging and some turbo-kickboxing,” Truesdell said. “Maybe just hauling laundry up and down stairs.”
Truesdell suffer from a chronic Achilles problem and prefers to aqua jog for cross training while not working out with the cross country team.
“When out of season, I may be inclined to skip more days of exercise to grade papers after school, but I have more opportunity to get into the pool or participate in the various exercise offered to staff members at Kamehameha,” Truesdell said.
For diet Truesdell watches what she eats.
“I try to be wise in eating and in portion sizes,” she said. “But I love my sweets of all kinds.”
Truesdell believes that she was fortunate as a child because she was slim and remained that way as a teen and young adult.
“I could focus more on maintenance of a healthy size and weight,” she said. “I’m not snobbish about food and probably eat entirely too much of what is bad for me, but I enjoy fruits and vegetables and other healthy choices.”
Her favorite running distance as she gets older is the 10K (6.2 miles).
“As I slow down, longer distances are probably better, but what I mean by longer is up to the 10K,” she said. “I have no interest in doing a milestone distances like marathons or half marathons.”
Truesdell considers her racing days over.
“In fact, I’d say my racing days are long over,” she said. “I don’t do speed work when the cross country work out requires it. That is a bridge or two too far for me.”
Her favorite race was the old Volcano 5 mile and some of the 10K’s she did on Oahu adding:
“I was younger, fitter and faster,” she said. “Those were different days.”
Truesdell has never considered herself a competitive athlete but it hasn’t stopped her from make significant contributions to this island’s community
Elizebeth Truesdell serves as a welcomed addition to the Warrior Ohana and as a true role model to her girls cross country team… We should all be pleased that she selected the Big Island as a place to teach and coach.
And someday should you happen to see a retired teacher come meandering up Shower Drive remember to smile say “woof” and “Never Shy away from “Running with the Big Dog”.
Email the big dog at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To instantly fall in love with sport from watching television, that is what Dharma Shay did after being exposed to Chinese kung fu movies.
“My father raised us watching Chinese culture, due to him being acupuncturist,” Shay said. “Once I moved to Hawaii I got involved in Karate for a short time.”
This was Shay’s involvement in sports participation at an early age, 6 or 7 years old, and it came under the guidance of Layne Luna at Hilo Intermediate.
“Mr. Luna’s heart and warmth helped me to believe in my latent abilities at the time,” Shay said. “Soon after I moved to train in Hungar Kung Fu under my Uncle Yada Mims in Puna.”
After being trained by his Uncle in Puna his father stepped in and introduced his son to several new pieces of literature on the subject to read on techniques of boxing to Oigong (energy cultivation).
“This was just the beginning,” Shay said.
While at Hilo High and Keaau he was introduced to traditional team sports for a short period of time but found the adjustment difficult.
“The rampant ego that came with high school didn’t sit well with my martial arts humility training.” Shay said. “I found myself at odds and decided to stick with training in Hungar, jin jitsu and mui thai.”
Shay recently returned from Korea where he was teaching English as a Second Language and finishing his second language degree.
“I currently work at United Hawaii College as an English teacher and the job entails working with different students from Japan every month,” he says. “The position offers teachers a comfortable lifestyle and the tools to facilitate a unique educational experience.”
Shay has opened his doors to a wide range of educational experience.
“Most of my work experiences here in Hawaii have been with behavioral health and education, working as a youth counselor with Goodwill’s Ola I Ka Hana and Hale Kipa’s advocacy program.
“I volunteer for 2 years as a PE instructor at Waters of Life after graduating from there,” Shay said.
Shay volunteers most of his time and energy to a wide variety of projects.
“Though I do not receive and income from projects like Urban Training or Busan Urban Training, I dedicated the read of my week to Hawaii Urban Training (HUT) I continue to work on my Masters,” Shay said.
HUT is a completely free community based health and high intensity fitness group for adults, based off the Busan Urban Training Model according to Shay.
“HUT’s goal is to build a sense of ownership and direction with participation from community health and wellness from people like Scottie Hoang, an Army Ranger,” Shay said. “My greatest challenge is breaking through a culture of being complacent for American participants.”
Shay finds that with running a free fitness group that members tend not to read the groups requirements.
“I approach the UT group like a business, not to eventually charge, but to increase my efficiency as an innovative leader and entrepreneur,” Shay said. “I would like to see students in wellness and fitness majors to utilize this model in communities across the nation as part of a reinvestment from soon to be healthcare practitioner’s communities.”
As for Shay fitness routine he exercises daily consisting of two to three days of weights and two to three days of calisthenics.
“Most of my workouts are functional, though I spend one or two of my weight days focusing purely on muscle development,” Shay said. “This will consist of heavyweight lifting and focusing on isolated groups.”
Shay will also focus of light weight and movement in order to burn and work on his form.
“The key to my entire workout is never taking a break longer than 30 seconds though I tend to stick to 15 second maxes,” he said. “I do the breaks of one to two minutes after I have completed the circuit. Some day’s workout will overlap which will allow me to have full days off, providing me with 5 solid days of workout.”
As for diet Shay will eat quite clean and basis. For one cup of meat he will eat 3 cups of vegetables.
“I try to maintain a high level of fiber and non fat based proteins,” he said. “My favorite veggie right now is fresh kale from one of the organic stands at the farmers market here in Hilo.”
To keep what he calls clean blood Shay will eat lots of garlic.
“I eat about a kilo of garlic a month,” he said. “My favorite treat is sweet potatoes with cinnamon, I keep a gallon bags full of stewed sweet potatoes with cinnamon, honey, and a little cayenne pepper.”
Shay also emphases the impotence of staying hydrated.
“Staying hydrated with clean water is the key,” Shay said. “I rely on regular vitamin supplement and Chinese herbs and I avoid workouts supplements that add to the wear and tear of my organs.”
Shay’s theory on diet is that you should eat what your healthy body wants and avoid fasting or drastic changes in diet.
“I do not restrict myself from junk food occasionally have a pizza night here and there,” he said. “But I do pay attention to the amount of calories I am consuming and I take the time to burn those off.”
And someday should you happen to see an retired teacher come passing by remember to say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”
Winston Churchill said “you make a living by what you get, but we make a life by what we give.”
Truer words can never be spoken as we reflect on the meaning of Thanksgiving.
I’ve been blessed over the years with many friends and supporters and have never found myself short of money to buy food but there are those not so lucky.
That is why I‘ve been so honored to be the first ever recipient of the Big Island Road Runners Club Thanksgiving Day 5K run/walk.
The BIRR was looking at a way to give back to the community by combining a joint effort to raise money or food for those less fortunate through the Salvation Army. Over 300 runners and walkers participated on Thanksgiving Day and were asked to bring a can good or to make a monetary donation.
Over $641 was raised and 6 large bins of canned goods went to the Salvation Army during this most critical time of the year.
Despite having Stage 4 terminal brain cancer I am regarded as fully functional and that in itself is indeed a blessing.
As I reflect on the many things I am thankful for I have to say I appreciate all the many people that care about me.
You see to be functional means I have my wits about me. It means I look forward to waking up every morning at 5 am. I am still able to do my five to seven mile walk each day. I can prepare for what the future has in store for me. For some people the end comes instantly, like an accident or a heart attack. For me, I know my time here is limited and I have started to plan for my final days.
I look forward to each day and prepare better for it. I have a deeper enjoyment toward life.
Each day gives me hope and brings me a deeper appreciation for those things that I normally take for granted, like my loving wife and now care giver, Randee.
So I’m honored that the BIRR would make me a part of their Thanksgiving run/walk as well as making it a benefit for the Salvation Army as a means to raise money and food for those that have so little during this holiday season.
During the 3.1 mile race it was Hilo High’s Stephan Hunter coming in first overall for the men in 17 minutes 11 seconds with Waiakea’s Ian McQuate 1 second behind.
“The entire race we were exchanging the lead,” Hunter said. “I had to put on a late kick with 100 meters to go to win the race.”
When asked what he was thankful for on this day Hunter said, I am thankful that my family is doing well and that my brother is coming home for the holiday.”
McQuate echoed Hunter’s sentiment and is thankful for his own family and friends.
Following in third place overall was Joe Barcia in a time of 17:55.
“I am thankful for family and friends and especially that my daughter got up early to come down and be a part of the wonderful event,” Barcia said.
In fourth overall was Sven Loeschengruber (17:58), fifth was St Joseph’s Andrew Langtry (18:06) according to Rick Otani timer for the BIRR event.
Dano Banks who was on hand to do the 2 mile walk with his wife Marti said “I am thankful for my friends, family and good health.”
For the women it was a pair of Hilo High girls taking first and second place. They also happen to be the best of friends, Carmen Garson Shumway in a time of 20:38 and Mehana Sabado-Halpern 10 seconds behind.
In third for the women was Heather Rosario (21:38) fourth Lory Hunter (21:52) fifth Eqberiela Benito (22:05).
Garson-Shumway noted that she came out to do this run in support of the Big Dog and so did Sabado-Halpern and for raising donations for a great cause the Salvation Army.
So on this typical liquid sunshine day in our hometown of Hilo many folks came out to enjoy a fun filled community event. They all shared the same sentiment of wanting to give back in record numbers to those less fortunate.
And someday should you see a very thankful walker/jogger come climbing up Shower Drive in the early morning hours remember to say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”
Competiveness in looks and not looking ‘fat’ can be hard on teenagers in school, especially as they try to fit in.
One such former teen explains her pain while putting on the weight in both middle and high school as a battle of being excluded by all the ‘pretty’ girls at school.
“I gained a lot of weight from ages 8 to about 12 years old and I think a lot of it had to do with what was going on within my family personally,” Wittney Soares said. “When I hit junior high school it took a toll on me.”
Soares confidence level dropped ‘big time’ as she saw all the attractive girls at school excluding her and so weight control became an obsession.
“I never ate school lunch, joined the junior varsity soccer team and tried my hardest to maintain my 118 pound frail figure,” she said. “My eating habits were horrible.”
Soares would practice soccer 3 hours and then run to the gym to lift weights or do more cardio for another 2 hours on little to no food in her system.
“I was weak and my body was in starvation mode,” Soares said. “I needed to change and quickly.”
Soares as a child played AYSO soccer and enjoyed ocean activities along with family outdoor play which included a variety of sports.
It was during her freshman year at Hilo High School that Soares became very self conscious about everything, especially her weight.
“I met my very first boyfriend, who is now my fiancé after being together and he really helped me put things into perspective,” Soares said. “I was trying to fit into this mold that truly wasn’t me.”
Soares realized, with the help of her fiancé, that she was comparing herself to other girls instead of embracing the assets she had within herself.
“My fiancé, Irvin, is extremely athletic,” she said. “He’s trained in ju jitsu and boxing/kickboxing his entire life,” Soares said. “He introduced me to fitness and healthy habits rather than the idea of wanting to be skinny.”
The results have been remarkable for Soares has transformed her body into a solid muscle mass as she runs daily, surfs regularly and lifts weights ‘correctly’.
“Irvin also introduced me into cooking well balanced meals to feed my body with energy in order to keep it adequately functioning,” Soares said.
Shortly after graduating from high school in 2006Soares gave birth to a son named Mikolas is almost 6 years old now and wanted to be a stay at home mom.
“But I still wanted an income so we created a jewelry company called ‘Sunkissed Vahinez in partnership with my cousin in 2007,” Soares said. “Since then we’ve expanded our online customer base and continue to grow towards our future.”
Soares has come a long way since those school days of weight obsession.
“These days my perspective on fitness and health greatly differ than my teen years,” she said. “I’ve grown into my womanhood and have accepted and grown to love my strong natural body stature.”
Although heavier than high school Soares is also healthier and stronger than she ever was back then.
“I run at least three miles every other day and at home I have a little gym with weights, stability balls, medicine balls, where I zone out the world, blast my music and sweat,” she said.
Soares likes to do a lot of cardio activities like interval training and circuits mixed with weights and variety.
During her free time you can find her swimming, surfing, and hiking around the many beautiful trails that our island has to offer, often doing it with her son.
“I’ve also been going to this amazing free class in Hilo called Urban Training,” Soares said. “This class is run by a trainer every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at Coconut Island and Bayfront at 6 p.m.”
By going to an experienced trainer Soares is encourages to push herself further than her usual comfort zone and take her fitness to the next level.
Looking ahead her goals are modest as she would one day like to race in a 5K (3.1 mile race).
“For the future I’d like to one day run a 5K,” Soares said. “That would be really cool. “I’ve also had an interest is fitness modeling as well.”
Soares new found confidence is unlimited as she sweeps away the scars that teens impose on themselves.
“The sky’s the limit really,” she said. “My real goal is to just gain awareness on what we put in our bodies as food, and how important it is to live healthy.”
And being a role model for a son plays an important part of her life.
“Being a healthy example for my son and other woman out there is my platform,” She said.
Soares and her fiancé hope to marry in the near future and will make a welcomed addition to our East Hawaii community.
And someday should you happen to see a happily married man doing laps in the back roads of Hawaiian Paradise Park remember to ‘smile’ say ‘woof’ and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”