Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Kamehameha Teacher and Coach, Joel Truesdell, making a difference

Coach Joel Truesdaell

When young people are exposed to sports participation they often come into contact with a variety of coaches, some good and others who need improvement.

Coaches can enhance a young person’s experience or they can take away their enthusiasm in that particular sport.

For a young Joel Truesdell his love for sports led to the discovery of a new, more objective form of coaching.

“I have been interested in sports since I was in elementary school,” Truesdell said.  “I loved any sport that we were paying and my favorites were baseball, football and wrestling.”

It was through that passion for sports participation that Truesdell got a rude awakening into how some coaches show favoritism.

“In high school, I played football my freshman year, but had a coach that played his favorites and I was not one of them,” he said.

From his unfortunate life lesson in football Truesdell vowed to only participate in sports where playing time was based more objectively on his performance.

“I realized that in cross country and track that the stop watch does not lie,” Truesdell said.  “In wrestling, if you beat the guy above you on the weight class ladder, you take his place.”

By his college years Truesdell was running between 70 and 100 miles per week and considered himself to be in the best shape of his life.

“ During the summer of my sophomore year in college I felt like I had a touch of the flu for a week and when I ran my next race, I could barely keep a 6 minute per mile pace for the 5 miles,” Truesdell said.

The week before his 5 mile race Truesdell was running the same distance on a rugged course at a 5:10 clip, so he knew something was wrong, but he didn’t know what it was.”

“I went to the doctor and he just said I needed a little rest and that I would be fine,” Truesdell said.  “I wasn’t diagnosed properly until Christmas when my weight dropped down to about 114 pounds that’s when it was discovered that I had Type I diabetes.”

Truesdell stopped running for a while after learning about his diabetes and claims that his health started to deteriorate even further.

“I  started running again seriously when I got to Hawaii in 1981, at the age of 26,” he said.  “My health started improving and by 1983 I was running marathons.”

Truesdell’s health improved so much after ’83 that he joined the Hawaii Ultra Running Team, also known as HURT, and started running ultra marathons or distances beyond the 26.2 mile marathon.

“My favorite ultra became Run to the Sun on Maui,” he said. “It is a 36.2 mile run up Haleakala,  and my best time was 6 hours and 20 minutes and a 7th place overall finish.”

Truesdell has done Run to the Sun 11 times and is a testament to perseverance and a strong mind.

Today Truesdell is a Chemistry teacher at Kamehameha Hawaii campus where he also coaches, what else, cross country and track.

“My workload, as are all teachers, is very high and highly stressful,” Truesdell said.  “Coaching, while also a lot of work, helps to relieve my stress.”

Truesdell has been married to Elizabeth for 21 years who also shares in her husband’s coaching task.

As for diet Truesdell follows the Chris Carmichael diet, which is high in carbohydrates and low in fats and protein.

“Carmichael preaches to eat what you need and not stuff yourself,” Truesdell said.  “I will eat fresh food everyday and dessert only on occasion.”

Truesdell is very visible in his coaching duties as he will run with his cross country team.

“I stay active by running 4 to 5 times per week with the kids,” he said.  “We run 4 to 5 miles per day and I enjoy doing it as it is fun and also keep my Type 1 diabetes in check.”

Truesdell is a good role model for his team as he does everything he ask them to do, even if it means trying something different that he had never done before.

“Our team started doing cardio kickboxing for core training and we do it twice per week.  I’ll try to do it with the kids but I seem to have rhythm disorder,” he said with a grin.

Coach Truesdell is an advocate for good health through exercise and eating right and lives the lifestyle, serving as a positive influence for a sport that is dear to his heart, which he happened to stumble upon.

At age 56 Truesdell continues to benefit from a sport that doesn’t lie, “it’s all about the stop watch.”

“What I like best about working out is the feeling that I have gotten rid of a lot of stress and that I have taken an action that will help me live another day,” Truesdell said.

“There is nothing that I dislike about working out as I hope that I can be running for many more years to come.”

Truesdell and his Kamehameha Warriors will be playing host to the Big Island Interscholastic Federation cross country championships scheduled for October 22.

If you happen to come by the Warrior campus be sure to view the race at the one mile mark where you will see a sign called “Truesdell Trail,” in honor of a coach  that has made a difference.

And someday should you happen to see a jogger meandering the back trails of East Hawaii remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

Email the Big Dog at waiakeabigdog@aol.com.

October 3, 2011 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BIIF Wrestling Opens Season with Kealakehe Meet

BIIF & State Champion Megan Aina

Big Island Interscholastic Federation kicks off their wrestling season with all schools hitting the mat at Kealakehe on Saturday, Jan 8.

Defending BIIF and State Champion Megan Aina of Kamehameha returns in the lightweight division.

Wrestling photos by CSUAINA

January 5, 2011 Posted by | Wrestling | , , , | 1 Comment

Big Island Sports Hall of Fame Legend, Gerry Earl Meyer

Pitching legend, Gerry Meyer

   The Big Island Sports Hall of Fame will soon be inducting another class of outstanding community volunteers into their ‘Wall of Fame’ at the Prince Kuhio Plaza.

   Over the years there have been many sports legends that have left their mark on our island community.  One such baseball legend is Gerry Earl Meyer who I recently had the pleasure of meeting at the rededication of the ‘Wall’.

   Meyer had begun to make his mark during the late 1940’s and early 50’s as a basketball and baseball star for the Honokaa Dragons.

   “I was lucky enough to receive a baseball scholarship to Fresno State College,” Meyer said.  “Right out of high school I signed and played with the Tigers in the Hawaii baseball League in Honolulu before leaving for college.”

   In 1953 Meyer signed with the St. Louis Cardinals and pitched in the California League.  “I injured my left index finger after the season and that ended my future hopes of going any further in professional baseball,” he said.

   Meyer returned to the Big Island in 1954 and pitched for the Hilo All-Stars Senior League against the Ed Lopat Major League All-Stars.

   “I pitched under coaches George Thompson with the Lincoln Wreckers and James Correa of the Puna Braves,” Meyer said.

   In 1955 Meyer got to be the starting pitcher against New York when the Yankees came to Hoolulu Park to play an exhibition game.

   During his illustrious career in sports Meyer had won a variety of honors and in 1960 reached the pinnacle of his pitching career.  While playing in the Hilo Baseball league Meyer pitched five consecutive shutouts in 102 innings of work and allowed only two earned runs for a remarkable 0.17 earned run average.

   “During that pitching string I was able to strike out 88 batters and walked 14,” he said.  Meyer finish the 1960 season with 12 wins and 2 loses with 121 strike-outs and a 0.32 ERA.

   Needless to say that Meyer received the Most Valuable Player Award for his stellar performance during the 1960 season.

  Four years later Meyer led the Hilo All-Stars to the first ever state championship.  “This was the first time an outside island team ever won,” Meyer said.  “Honolulu had dominated the baseball state title for a number of years, so this was a high point for us.”

   Throughout four decades Meyer had not only played sports but helped the community with his knowledge through coaching.

   “I helped organize the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) in Honokaa and I coached Little League baseball, boy’s basketball, women’s softball and men’s fast pitch softball,” he said.

   Meyer was also the assistant Varsity Baseball coach and assistant Junior Varsity basketball coach at Honokaa under head coaches Jackie Kitagawa and Harry Kim.

   “I’ve coached for over 40 years and with a number of different teams,” Meyer said.  “In 1976 I was President of the Hilo Junior Golf Association and together with Larry Tanimoto was instrumental in obtaining slots for Hawaii to the Junior World Golf Tournament in San Diego.”

   Meyer even coached three years at for the Hilo College Vulcans Baseball Team.  “I was the pitching coach for the Vulcans, from 1986 to ’88,” he said.  In those final two years the team made it to the College World Series in Idaho.”

  Along the way Meyer also coached a variety of talented Big Island Interscholastic Federation pitchers, two of which were named the BIIF Players of the Year.

   “I am honored to give of my time and the knowledge to all of the youngsters that have had the pleasure of working with and over the years two young pitchers, Aaron Correa and Charles Haasenritter were named players of the year in the BIIF,” Meyer said.

   Today the retired Police Sergeant continues to help whoever and whenever he can.  “I have parents and coaches that still call me for help,” Meyer said.  “I continue to give back to the community with my knowledge as I work with youngsters from age 9 to college.”

  Meyer has always believed in bringing young pitchers along slowly.  “I do not let my young pitchers throw any curves, it’s not necessary, so as not to ruin their career at a young age,” he said.

   There have also been difficult moments for Coach Meyer as he’s watched some of his players style of throwing changed in later development.  “There are times when it becomes very frustrating when coaches try to change the mechanics of the pitchers I work with and they will call me and tell me that they are confused and having a hard time,” Meyer said.

Meyer is just one of the many fine examples of people that have been inducted into the Big Island Sports Hall of Fame.

   The Hall of Fame’s mission is dedicated to honor, preserve and promote knowledge of significant accomplishments in sports within the County of Hawaii and those that have been selected, like Meyer, have put in countless years of expertise into helping promote a positive experience in sports participation.

Some of the members of the Big Island Sports Hall of Fame

Nominations being sought for new class:

The Big Island Sports Hall of Fame’s selection committee is currently seeking nominations for its 12th class of honorees.
   To be considered for induction, written nominations and a color 8-by-10 inch photo are required and should include first and last names, mailing address and phone number, and the person’s achievement or contributions to the community for over 20 years.
   The selection committee must receive a written nomination for the person by July 15 to be officially considered. There is no exception to this requirement.
  For questions call nomination chair Derek Shigematsu at 315-1400.  Written nominations should be sent to Derek Shigematsu, P.O. Box 1466, Honokaa, HI. 96727.

  The late Jack Matsui is the founder of the Big Island Sports Hall of Fame, a nonprofit organization…..

July 12, 2010 Posted by | Events, Profiles | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment