Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Honoka’a Jazz Band Director, Gary Washburn, Staying Fit

Gary Washburn

There are many different ways to stay in shape and to keep your body physically fit.  Each week this column features people who are active and healthy.  Swimmers, runners, walkers, cyclist, yoga students and even an occasional basketball player have shared their stories with the Big Dog.

Recently I had the pleasure of hearing the Honokaa Jazz Band perform and was impressed with their music, and discovered that band instructor Gary Washburn was also in top shape.

Prior to Washburn’s 34 years with the Department of Education he played a variety of various sports while growing up.

“In Intermediate School I played baseball,” Washburn said.  “In high school I played basketball and baseball, but was junk because I didn’t like contact sports and I was afraid of the ball.”

Washburn found his calling as a music teacher and today has one of the most recognizable high school bands on the Big Island.

“I always try to have fun and encourage the kids to have fun,” Washburn said.  “Mistakes are okay if you are trying hard.”

One of the secrets to Washburn’s success in the band room is that he preaches the concept of ‘team’.

“I teach them to work as a team, to practice hard and to remember to represent themselves, their school and the community the best way they can.”

This master teacher has transformed a once very stressful job into a something less stressful.

“Teaching is as stressful as you make it,” he said.  “In the first few years it was really stressful, now three decades later, it is still somewhat stressful.”

For every performance, and there are many, Washburn worries about everything from:

Did the students remember what I told them? What to wear? Where to meet?  What time?

Did they bring their horn, music and brains?  How will they play? How is their attitude?

But everything works itself out because Washburn is organized and he knows what he has planned and what his students are going to accomplish.

Besides teaching full time Washburn also has a 5 acre farm which he tends to 100 banana trees, 75 pineapple plants and a vegetable garden.

“I am also a full time musician and we play gigs around the island,” he said.

But what impressed me the most is Washburn works as a wrangler for the Waipio Ridge Stables and much of that work accounts for his great conditioning.

If you’re a tin horn, like me, let me give you an idea of a wrangler job description.

As a wrangler Washburn takes care of the horses that people take rides on.  He feeds grooms, clean their hooves, brushes, sprays for flies, and saddles sometimes as many as 20 horses.

“After we take people on a 3 to 5 hour ride I will help get them off the horses and will return to the stable and the process reverses itself,” Washburn explains.  “That means taking two 50 pound bags of alfalfa cubes out to the herd and distributing it into feeding containers.

And why does Washburn take on the responsibilities of being a wrangler?

“It is physically hard work and the reason I do it is to stay in shape,” he said.  “It certainly is not for the money.”

Washburn also gets an additional work out in during the school day by climbing a steep hill to his band room six to ten times a day.

“The hill to the band room is 50 to 75 yards long and is a steep climb,” he said.  “Students complain all the time, of course, but I enjoy the walk because it gets me out of my classroom which has no windows and it also allows my brain to clear and my ears to rest.”

Often those treks to his band room include moving musical equipment from keyboards, to amps and speakers, to name a few.

For diet Washburn eats lots of vegetables, fruits, tofu and drinks loads of water.

“I am primarily a vegetarian and my wife is very good about giving me healthy meals, bless her heart and mine,” Washburn said. 

Of course genetics plays an important role in health and lifespan and Washburn has been fortunate in that area.

“My dad lived until he was 94 and my mom is presently 92 and still kicking hard,” he said with a grin.  “Both worked hard and stayed very active.”

Washburn will invest a great deal of time getting to know his students, their likes and dislikes, and he uses that information to entertain their interest in learning more about their goals.

“Stimulate the student’s creativity so they will go and find answers themselves instead of depending on someone else to supply the answers,” Washburn said.  “I stress fun and pride in creating music and I try to provide a basic vocational education so that the students who want to continue with music can.”

Gary Washburn is more than a successful master music instructor for the Honokaa Jazz band.  He is a contributing member of our community that not only loves music, but finds physical activity in a variety of ways.

We are all blessed to have him and the Honokaa Jazz Band on Hawai’i Island.

And on Friday should you happen to see a Vietnam Vet jogging along the coast line of Hilo Bay remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

Veterans Day 5K run/walk on Friday, 11-11-11, starting at 7:30 am from the parking area of Coconut Island. Post race refreshments will be provided by State House Representatives Jerry Chang and Clift Tsuji.   Finishers will also receive Vidration sports drink provided by Keith Aoki of Anheuser-Busch Hawaii, while supplies last.

Email the Big Dog at waiakeabigdog@aol.com.

November 7, 2011 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Big Dog’s Veterans Day 5K run/walk on 11.11.11

Veterans Day 5K run/walk on tap

     Big Dog Productions will host a 5K (3.1-mile) fun run/walk on Veterans Day, Friday, November 11, starting at the entrance to Moku Ola (Coconut Island) in Hilo.

    Start time is set for 7:30 a.m. and the entry fee is a canned good item to be donated to the Hawaii Island Food Basket.

   Host Wayne “Big Dog” Joseph is a U.S. Army Veteran that is organizing the event as a way of honoring our military troops.

  Post race refreshments will be provided by State House Representatives Jerry Chang and Clift Tsuji.   Finishers will also receive Vidration sports drink provided by Keith Aoki of Anheuser-Busch Hawaii, while supplies last.

   For more information contact the Big Dog at 969-7400, email at waiakeabigdog@aol.com

November 3, 2011 Posted by | Events | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Big Island Sports Hall of Fame returning to PKP

Jerry Chang, Kimberly Shimabuku and Ellsworth Fontes sign contract

Jerry Chang, Kimberly Shimabuku and Ellsworth Fontes sign contract

Photos of more than 100 inductees into the Big Island Sports Hall of Fame will return to the Prince Kuhio Plaza after nearly two years in storage.

    Plans are under way to rededicate a 12’x12’ wall space next to Macy’s Men Shop and across from IHOP in early January with a formal ceremony.  It will be followed a few months later with a new class of inductees.

     The photos of that illustrious group graced the wall of PKP for nearly 8 years before management decided to sell the wall space in February ’08, leaving the Sports Hall of Fame without a home.

    Since that time the photo’s and plaque’s commemorating more than 4,000 years of community service to the Big Island sports community had been placed into storage and in some cases has resulted in mildew damage.

   Over the past six months a group of community volunteers, spearhead by Jerry Chang, state House representative, has meet on a regular basis to bring the photos back for public viewing.

   “I was present at a meeting between board members, Ellsworth Fontes and Ken Fujiyama when they were discussing re-activating the (BISHofF) committee and new leadership,” Chang said.

   “(Fujiyama) made the suggestion that I would be a good candidate because of my long standing relationship with founder Jack Matsui and the sports community on the Big Island,” Chang said.

   Chang volunteered to head the first organizational meeting in order to kick start the process and a new board was selected this past May.

   Chang was selected to serve as the committee’s president with vice president, Pat Aiona, Sr. and Fontes continues to serve as treasurer.  Other board members include Fujiyama, Derek Shigematsu, Brian Iwata, Cora Lee Matsui, Wendell Kaehuaea and Dr. Ernest Bade.

Fontes holds plans to return photo's to wall of fame
Fontes holds plans to return photo’s to wall of fame

Kimberly Shimabuku, general manager at PKP, had also contacted the mall’s owners, General Growth Properties, to provide the BISHofF organization with a special non-profit cost for wall rental space.

    “Each contract for rental in the Plaza goes through the appropriate department committee for approval,” Shimabuku said.

   Shimabuku also explained the process for removing the photo’s from the free wall space.  “We approached Mr. Matsui regarding the need for a sponsor for the wall, although a specific price was not discussed.  A notification letter was sent and the pictures were removed in February 2008 after approximately 18 months of working with Mr. Matsui to find a sponsor or another suitable home,” she said.

   Shimabuku acknowledges PKP’s support for the Big Island Sports Hall of Fame, but says, “Business conditions were such that we need sponsorship for the space.  The Board of Directors has found that sponsorship and GGP was willing to extend a discounted rate.”

   “PKP has asked us to pay $250 per month (plus an additional $10.41 per month in taxes) and we were able to get several $500 donation commitments from various people and community organizations so that we can insure the first year of wall space,” Chang said.

   Chang, along with Clift Tsuji, Dennis “Fresh” Onishi,  and the Big Island International Marathon have all made verbal commitments to the BISHofF committee to help pay for the first year of wall space at the mall.

   Jack Matsui came up with the idea of the BISHofF in a dream that came to him one morning.  “I just woke up from a dream one morning and the idea of recognizing some of the older people in our community came to me,” Matsui said in an previous interview.

   Matsui, 86, is the founder of many sports organizations throughout the island which includes the Big Island Athlete of the Month, Big Island Sports Person of the Year, and several boxing organization.

    “I have known Jack (Matsui) since I was 10 years old.  He was my first coach for boxing with the Hilo Boys Club and he was my basketball and baseball coach for Hukilau (Restaurant) Athletic Club,” Chang said.

   The BISHofF is now in the process of getting a federal non-profit status with the help of County Corporation Counsel Attorney, Joseph Kamelamela and CPA, Brian Iwata, contributing pro-bono on the application process.

   “We expect to get our 501 (3) (c) status by the end of this year,” Chang said.  “In the meantime we need to raise additional money to pay for the damage done to the plaques and photo’s while they were in storage and to help pay for the cost of our next inductee class which will be in early 2010.

   The new contract is only for one year which runs from January 1 to December 31, 2010, at which time PKP will reevaluate its agreement with the BISHofF.

    “For this type of agreement our maximum term is one year.  After a year we hope to see a renewal of sponsorship for the wall,” Shimabuku said.

    In the meantime, anyone who would like to help with the BISHofF to preserve and honor those that have contributed so much to sports here on the Big Island can make a check out to Big Island Sports Hall of Fame and mail it to P.O. Box 11211, Hilo, Hawaii 96721.


October 16, 2009 Posted by | Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment