Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

John Kai staying active by playing hoops in the 35 and older league

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.”


December 24, 2012 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Big Dog’s List of State Top 10 Cross-Country Runners

Hailey Grossman, Seabury Hall

Hailey Grossman, Seabury Hall

Updated Final List at:  https://waynejoseph.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/big-dogs-final-hhsaa-top-10-cross-country-runners/

The following list was compiled after reviewing the results of the first three regular season cross-country meeting in all five leagues, OIA, ILH, KIL, MIL and the BIIF.

Another list will be generated at the six week mark in the season.  Your comments/suggestions are welcomed in helping to create the next list.


  1. Hailey Grossman, Seabury Hall
  2. Ellie Brady, Punahou
  3. Tialana Greenwell, Honokaa
  4. Gabriella Jenkins, Mililani
  5. Jessica Kafer, Radford
  6. Kimberly Pugliese, Mililani
  7. Heidi Nicholls, HBA
  8. Noelani Mikami, Kamehameha-Oahu
  9. Kaitlyn Chock, Waiakea
  10.  Shelila de Bourmont, Hilo   
Rocky Balala, Maui, leads pack

Rocky Balala, Maui, leads pack


  1. 1. Margarito Martinez, Leileihua
  2. 2. Pierce Murphy, Island School
  3. 3. Rocky Balala, Maui
  4. 4. Jordan Thibaleau, Kamehameha-Oahu
  5. 5. Troy Esaki, Iolani
  6. 6. Isiah Sato, Kamehameha-Oahu
  7. 7. Jordan Kuhawai, Kamehameha-Oahu
  8. 8. Chris Mosch, Honokaa
  9. 9. Borys Pleskacz, Iolani
  10. 10. Daniel Brooks, Keaau 


September 20, 2009 Posted by | High School Runners | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 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

BIIF Boy’s Track & Field All-Star List

BIIF All-League Boys Track and Field 2009

Athlete of the Year: Jacob Edwards JR Ka’u

Coach of the Year: Bill McMahon, Hilo


Event 1st Team 2nd Team
110 Hurdles Jacob Edwards JR Ka’u Thomas Delacruz SR Hilo
100m Chan Spikes JR Hilo Charles Clay SR Hilo
1500m Mark Turner SR Hilo Jake Shiraki SR Honoka’a
400m Kaimi Scott JR Waiakea Jordan Lerma SR Kamehameha
300m Hurdles Jacob Edwards JR Ka’u Thomas Delacruz SR Hilo
800m Dakota Smith SR Konawaena Jordan Lerma SR Kamehameha
200m Kaimi Scott JR Waiakea Charles Clay SR Hilo
3000m Eli Hart SR Hawaii Prep Mark Turner SR Hilo
High Jump Sam Unger SR Konawaena Mtume Msizkizi-Jackson SR Kea’au
Pole Vault Scott Hunter SR Hilo (Tie) Caleb Friel SR Kamehameha,David King SR Hilo
Long Jump Mtume Msizkizi-Jackson SR Kea’au Jacob Edwards JR Ka’u
Triple Jump Jacob Edwards JR Ka’u Mtume Msizkizi-Jackson SR Kea’au
Discus Throw Jordon Loeffler SR Hilo Elliot Kastner SR Hawaii Prep
Shot Put Shane Brostek FR Hawaii Prep Jordon Loeffler SR Hilo

Honorable Mention

 Waiakea:  Travis Winters

Christian Liberty: Jeremy Grotenhuis, Justin Pang

Hawaii Prep: George Twigg-Smith, Tyler Tsubota

Hilo: Billy Ray, Leo Campbell, Bronson Kahaleua, Alan Tilanus, James Yoshimoto, Cameron Calistro

Honoka’a: Ian Laird, Chris Mosch

Kea’au: Jesse Huihui, Edward Dalton, Broc Bangloy, Daniel Brooks, Patrick Understeller, Jelani Alcott, Jelani Young

Kealakehe: Remington Noguchi, Jake Jordan, Luca Walter

Kohala: Ethan Meikle, Conn Wallman

Konawaena: Austin Denike, Ricky Pekala

Kamehameha: Kainoa Crum, Manta Dircks, Isaac DeRego, Pon

May 30, 2009 Posted by | High School Runners, High School Track & Field, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Positive Coaching Confrence at UHH June 2

McMackin, others to share focus on inspiring success

Greg McMackin, head football coach at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, will deliver the keynote address at a youth sports conference at the University of Hawaii at Hilo on Tuesday, June 2.

Reservations are being accepted for “Facilitating Extraordinary Accomplishments in Hawaii’s Youth (FEAHY),” a community conference designed to examine the local youth sports culture.

Registration deadline is May 15. Cost is a $10 fee, which will be waived for Big Island Interscholastic Federation students and coaches.  (Deadline to register has been extended).

Request registration forms by email from PCABigIsland@hawaiiantel.net or at the County’s Recreation Division office at 799 Piilani Street in Hilo.

The community conference is being organized by the County of Hawaii’s Recreation Division, UH-Hilo’s Campus Center and Athletic Department, and Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) Big Island.

Conference participants will hear from a panel of local sports and education leaders including Randy Hirokawa, dean of the UHH College of Arts and Sciences, Vulcans head volleyball coach Bruce Atkinson, Mason Souza, County recreation specialist and basketball official, Doug Connors, Hamakua community activist, and others.

The panel moderator will be ESPN Hawaii radio show host Josh Pacheco, a St. Joseph High School graduate.

According to organizers, the conference’s purpose is to “create and facilitate an opportunity for interscholastic and youth sports leaders, coaches, students and parents to hear success stories — and descriptions of various sports cultures — and to design their own enhancing plans to facilitate extraordinary accomplishments in Hawaii’s youth.”

Two PCA workshops — “Becoming a Triple Impact Competitor” for high school student-athletes, and “Developing Competitors” for coaches — will be provided for participants.

May 20, 2009 Posted by | Events | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment