Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Dvorak & Acob advance to Nationals

Sarah Dvorak wins finals during sectional play
Sarah Dvorak wins finals during sectional play

Rising tennis stars Sarah Dvorak and Zandrix Acob sweep their ways through the finals of the DT USA Nike Summer Section Tennis Championships in Honolulu to qualify for the national championships.

    Dvorak, a soon to be 8th grader at Waiakea Intermediate School, warmed up for the sectionals by playing in the West Hawaii District Junior Championships held in late May.

   Playing in the Girls’ 18 Singles in the West Hawaii Championships Dvorak had to work her way through the consolation bracket after losing a tough opening match.

   “My coach (Evan Schermer) told me that if I want to be very good I need to play the best players, so we decided to enter the 18 singles, even though I’m only 13,” Dvorak said.

   The soon to be eighth grader persevered by winning her opening match in consolation before facing Hilo’s Kendall Tada in the semi’s.  Dvorak eliminated Tada by identical scores of 6-2, and then faced Kealakehe’s Sayo Tsukamoto in the finals.

   Tsukamoto is the three time Big Island Interscholastic Federation girls champion and has finished third in the Hawaii High School Athletic Association tennis championships for the past two years.

  Dvorak, who was unseeded going into the tournament defeated Tsukamoto in 6-2, 7-6 to win the Consolation bracket championship.

   “That was definitely the biggest win I’ve ever had,” Dvorak said of beating Tsukamoto.  “My ground stokes worked well for me as I like staying back and hitting for point.”

   The left hand Dvorak also brings to the courts a solid serve with very few double faults that allows her to stay in all of her matches.  “I need to work more on my volleys as that is probably the weakest part of my game,” she said.

   Entering the Nike Sectional Play in Honolulu on June 11 Dvorak was again unseeded and needed to start play in the group of 32.

   Dvorak managed to fight her way through the competition before playing in the championship finals against the number one seed, Julia Weisel, for the lone automatic berth to nationals.  

  In a highly contested match Dvorak pulled out another exciting win of her young career with straight set victories 7-5, 6-2.

   “I don’t get to play in many tournaments because of the travel cost and that is probably the reason that I come into these tournaments unseeded,” Dvorak said.

   “My coach (Schermer) really helped my game as he makes me try my best.  I was really confident coming into this tournament and I really wanted to win,” Dvorak said of her sectional victory.

   Dvorak also had high praise for University of Hawaii at Hilo conditioning coach, Robin Takahashi.  “He’s (Takahashi) really helped a lot of us in our strength and conditioning as a lot of high school tennis players go to him after school to get in shape,” she said.

  Even after winning sectionals and advancing to nationals the jubilant Dvorak believed that her previous victory over high school champion Tsukamoto was her biggest.  “My win over Sayo remains as the biggest tennis victory in my life,” she said.

   Zandrix Acob is no stranger to junior tennis in Hawaii as the youngster maintains the states number one ranking for Boys’ 14.

   Acob started 2009 off with a bang by winning the Copper Bowl Championship in Tucson, Arizona for Boys’ 12 before turning 13 in March.  The youngster has just completed the seventh grade at Hilo Intermediate School and isn’t sure where he might be next year.

   “I’ve been talking with my parents about possible changing schools next year, but we still haven’t decided,” he said.

   At the Nike tourney in Honolulu last week Acob defeated his first three opponents in straight love sets before beating Marcel Chan in the finals 7-6 (2), and 6-2.

   “I think I’m playing my best right now and my opponents are having a hard time adjusting to my game,” Acob said.

   “My serves and forehand strokes worked really well for me,” Acob said.  “But I still need to work on my footwork and my volleys.”

   Acob credits a lot of his success to his coach, Steve Drosdick, who has been working with the youngster for almost two years.”

   “He’s (Drosdick) really strict and he has changed almost all aspects of my game, from my forehand to my backhand and even my serves,” Acob said.

     With their sectional victories Dvorak and Acob have won from Nike roundtrip transportation, food and lodging for themselves to play in the NJT USA National Masters at Stanford University in California from September 18-20.

    Winners of the National competition will then advance to play in the NJT International Masters in the Dominican Republic in October.

June 18, 2009 Posted by | Junior Tennis | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Healthy Living Practices with Sherry Bracken

Sherry Bracken talks health on Sunday
Sherry Bracken talks health on Sunday
Radio personality, Sherry Bracken, will discuss healthy living with Dr. Nancy Lins on Sunday.
Big Island Press Club member Sherry Bracken’s Island Issues program on Sunday, June 21, will be all about health.  Guest Dr. Nancy Lins, a naturopathic physician, will talk about supplements and healthy living practices.    Island Issues  will air at 6:30 a.m. on KKOA 107.7 fm and at 8 a.m. on LAVA 105.3 fm.     Get information online about all Island Issues  broadcasts at www.islandissues.com.  Sherry welcomes your input and questions for future guests at sherryb@lava105.com.

June 16, 2009 Posted by | Health and Fitness | , , , | Leave a comment

Multi Talented Okamura Staying Fit

Marleen Okamura at Keaau Middle
Marleen Okamura at Keaau Middle

     Positive role models, we all need them.  Parents, teachers and coaches all have a lifetime influence on us and what we learn from them we pass on to our own children.

    Marleen Pascua Okamura, a counselor at Keaau Middle School, is a positive role model when it comes to health and fitness.

   Okamura has spent her life involved in a variety of sports activities and looks every bit like an athlete.

   “I played softball and baseball since I was five and I paddled canoe since middle school.  In high school I played volleyball and softball, I also ran track and paddled canoe,” Okamura said. 

   At Leileihua High School Okamura was an all-state athlete in softball and she also reached the all-state level for track while running on the Mules 4×100 relay team.

   Okamura was offered an athletic and academic scholarship to college and was able to play for Pacific University in Oregon and the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

    During the offseason at UHH Okamura would cross-train by kickboxing and body boarding, and later went on to study Martial Arts and trained in muy thai kickboxing as well as grappling before giving birth to her son, Sky, in 2002.

   Today, at age 37, Okamura continues to paddle competitively with the Keaukaha Canoe Club at Hilo Bay.  She is also an assistant coach, along with Miri Sumida, for the women’s paddling program.

   “I love all water sports,” she said.  “I know that we have strong and talented women in our club and we definitely have the potential to do extremely well in both the regatta and long distance season.”

   Okamura has also set numerous other goals for 2009, “I plan on training for the Molokai Channel “Na Wahine O Ke Kai” which I have done several times, but would like to place in the top 20 with the Keaukaha.”

    Part of Okamura’s success in sports is due to her belief in a healthy diet.  At the top of her list is water.  “Water, water, water!!! Along with lots of fruits, vegetables, fiber, good protein and good carbs,” she said.

   “It’s important for me to watch what I eat because I want to stay healthy and not have complications later in life.  We have a choice, Prevention vs. Treatment, I would rather prevent things from happening now rather than go through treatment for the rest of my life,” Okamura said.

   “Being healthy and improving my health is a way of life for me,” she said.  “I will be the first to admit that things are not always perfect for me especially when family parties and holidays occupy most of our lifestyle and culture, but it’s about making good choices.”

   Okamura will exercise four days per week and now that she is into the canoe season she includes cardio exercises and agility training along with paddling.

    Besides regular physical exercise and a healthy diet Okamura also has a positive attitude about life and she loves her job.

   “As a counselor I am able to reach out to students, providing an atmosphere of learning in social, emotional and behavioral growth.  Having students spend their recess and lunch with me because they want to and not because they have to is a plus,” she said.

    Okamura is engaged to her college sweetheart, Michael Clarke, and the couple is both into exercise and taking care of their bodies.

   “Mikey (Clarke) was the 1991 Oahu Interscholastic Association player of the year in basket basketball for Mililani High School,” Okamura said.  “He also played football and was a star soccer player while growing up.”

   The couple will go to the golf course driving range to hit balls or to the courts to play tennis in their spare time.

   “Mikey is always telling me that I don’t have to kill the ball at the driving range,” Okamura said.  “I usually smile back at him because I know he is right, but it just feels good to whip something that hard and to see it disappear in to mid air.”

   Okamura is always learning and always open to new adventures in sports.  She is multitalented and has explored and continues to explore a wide variety of activities.

   “Just for fun I’d like to train in the rigors of the Mixed Martial Arts mat, possible with BJ Penn.  Mainly to see the result of MMA training, getting stronger, leaner and experiencing the intense training that men endure,” she said.

   Okamura strives to maintain her weight from college and would like to reach her goal of 10 to 15 percent body fat.  “I love working out and I do my best to stay in shape mainly because I love sports, but also to prepare for some of my future goals in athletics, like continuing to do marathons, O-C1 paddling, and maybe one day the triathlon,” she said.

    For those who are just starting out or thinking about beginning a fitness program Okamura has the following advice:

    “Make the decision first and let your actions follow.  And if you have a friend or friends that are willing to join you, have fun and make crazy bets along the way.  It’s funny to know what motivates people.  Years ago my friend and I made a bet to see who could drop down a few dress sizes.  I went from a size 7 to a size 4 and all for $50 and dinner,” she said.

    “Aim at nothing and you will hit it, so make sure you have short term goals, long term goals and daily goals as well.”

    “Always remember that successful people do what unsuccessful people don’t want to do, so you decide.  Start Today!” Okamura said.

     Keaau Middle students should feel lucky that they have such a positive role model, just one of many, at their school.

June 15, 2009 Posted by | Canoe Racing, Health and Fitness, Profiles | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

High School Cross-Country to get 30% cut at HHSAA


Leileihua Boys were crowned state champions Fall 2008

Leileihua Boys were crowned state champions Fall 2008

I’ve been coaching high school cross-country for over 20 years and have watched the number of participants in the sport grow by leaps and bounds.

    That is why I find it strange that at the Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association meeting on Oahu there is a proposal to reduce the state tournament size (not just for cross country, but air rifle and bowling)  by 30 percent as a means of saving money.

    Last year there were nearly 200 cross-country boys and another 200 girls running in the state championship at Hawaii Prep and if the HIADA has their way they will reduce that number by 60 boys and 60 girls.

    In all the years I’ve been coaching cross-country not once has the Hawaii High School Athletic Association ever offered to pay for my runner’s air or ground transportation or for our hotel accommodations.

    My runners at Molokai, Pahoa and Waiakea High School have always had to fundraiser and then their parents had to come up with the extra monies needed to pay for the entire cost.

    Kudos to the Big Island Interscholastic Federation for voting against all state tournament reductions and for them to openly wonder whether the economic and financial reasons given for the reductions would actually help the schools, but instead would leave the athletes as the only ones that would be suffering.

   I applaud Kamehameha-Hawaii athletic director, Bob Wagner, for going on record as being opposed to the reductions by saying, “It’s just really eliminating opportunities for young people.”

   In October 2009 the HHSAA cross-country championships will be held on Kauai, but with 120 fewer runners, and fewer coaches and parents, what will be the economic impact be for that island’s visitor industry?

   (Final decision by the AD’s at HIADA, a day after I posted this story, was to cut cross-country participation at the state championships by 20 percent which still means 40 fewer boys and 40 fewer girls.)

June 13, 2009 Posted by | Editorial | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does Size Matter?

    HBA defeated Hilo in volleyball at the Division II state championship.  Should size matter when playing Division I or Division II?  Currently no rules govern a sports teams decision to play and some small schools are upset. 

Hawaii Baptist Academy defeated Hilo in Division II volleyball

Hawaii Baptist Academy defeated Hilo in Division II volleyball

High school sports were divided into Division I and Division II a few years ago and there are no rules governing which division a school might play in.  Not only that, a school can play Division I football and participate in Division II volleyball, which is the case with Hilo High.

    An interesting article on the subject appears today in both the Hawaii Tribune-Herald and West Hawaii Today and part of the story from West Hawaii is reprinted below.

   School size still doesn’t matter

Hiada defeats proposal to classify schools by enrollment
HONOLULU — Small Big Island schools — frustrated with having to face powerhouse programs on Oahu backed by larger enrollments in Hawaii High School Athletic Association state tournaments — must wait at least one more year before the playing field is leveled, at least in terms of comparable school size.

A Big Island Interscholastic Federation proposal to classify schools in divisions based on enrollment or population was defeated in committee Friday at the 49th annual Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association meetings here in Honolulu.

The population-based proposal was initially defeated in a straw-vote poll in committee Thursday at the HIADA meetings. On Friday, the proposal was officially voted on by the committee and was easily defeated.

To read the rest of the story go to www.westhawaiitoday.com

June 13, 2009 Posted by | Editorial | , , , , | 1 Comment