Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Keaau P.E. Teacher, Jon Taketa, a Great Role Model

Jon Taketa

“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit,” Aristotle wrote.

Forming good habits and setting positive examples on a daily basis is what we all aspire to do and for a Keaau High physical education teacher it has become a way of life.

Jon Taketa is one of a handful of teachers for the Cougars that started when the high school first opened in 1999.

“Like anywhere else, our students have their own dreams and aspiration for a successful future,” Taketa said.  “On the flip side, many students must overcome adversities faced daily.”

Taketa serves as a good role model in the world of health and fitness as he consistently demonstrates the benefits of regular physical exercise.

“I had plenty of positive role models growing up in my teachers and coaches,” he said.

Taketa got involved in organized sports when he was in kindergarten when he played both basketball and baseball.

“Both my parents were pretty good athletes during their prime,” he said with a grin.  “So I guess you could say that I was destined to have some interest in sports.”

By third grade Taketa was playing football and by seventh grade he added golf to his sports repertory. 

“I played baseball and football all four years at Waiakea High and basketball in my freshman and sophomore years,” Taketa said.

Graduating from high school in 1984 Taketa had little trouble figuring out what he wanted to major in during college.

“I knew I enjoyed helping out children as I was already working at summer fun and coaching youth baseball,” he said.  “I thought that teaching physical education would be a fun thing to do and it was right up my alley.”

Taketa also credits the many teachers and coaches that served as his role models during those early years.

“I had plenty of positive role models such as Dennis Maedo, Warren Miyasaki, Mildred Kaneshiro, Ken Yamase, Dennis Kagawa, Jimmy Correa, Wil Okabe and Harry Kim, to name a few,” Taketa said.  “Most importantly, my main role models while growing up were my parents.  Until this day, they still try to live active lifestyles.”

Taketa believes that Keaau High has the best facilities and he appreciates the staff in the PE department which makes it fun for him to go to work each day.

Today this veteran P.E. teacher is living in his perfect dream job.

“P.E. teachers have the best jobs in the world,” he said.   “It allows us to workout with the students and stay in shape at the same time.  Students appreciate this and it can also be a motivating factor for them to excel in class.”

Taketa’s satisfaction comes in knowing that his students have applied what they learned in their later lives. 

“It is especially rewarding to see former students living healthy and active lifestyles,” Taketa said.  “While in my classes I tell them that I provide the tools and knowledge and it is up to them to apply it and to live productive and successful lives.”

Staying in shape for Taketa is easy as he will work out with his students during weight training, core workouts and in walking countless miles.

“If not in school I will try to walk at least five times a week for up to 2 or 3 miles each time,” he said.  “My wife and I enjoy taking our daughter in her jogging stroller for long walks in the neighborhood.”

Taketa will also do body weight and dumbbell exercises at home a minimum of twice a week and he will stretch on a daily basis.

“I enjoy mountain biking whenever I can and I will do weekly yard work, which I enjoy,” Taketa added.

Having a young daughter has motivated Taketa to take better care of what he puts into his body.

“Now that I have a daughter, what I eat needs to give me the daily energy requirements to efficiently perform my fatherly duties,” he said.  “It’s become a challenge to maintain my optimal weight since her birth.”

Taketa will eat lots of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis which includes lots of water consumption and extra carbohydrates on the weekends.

“Personally, it gives me peace of mind in knowing that I try my best to practice what I preach,” he said.  “I’ll try my best to be a positive role model for my students and by staying in shape and eating healthy it keeps me one step ahead of the game!”

Taketa also teaches a class called Gifted and Talented Physical Education.

“Students in the GTPE class advocate the importance of physical education and healthy lifestyles through hands on lessons in physical fitness,” Taketa said.  “Cross age tutoring and peer education principles are addressed in class. The primary beneficiaries of this class are the students at Keaau Elementary and our special needs students at our high school.”

Jon Taketa is one of the many great role models in our community that teach and/or coach our youngsters in being the very best they can be.

“As long as I’m teaching PE, I’d like to keep on being a positive role model by staying in shape, and of being in sound mind and body. By participating with my students, whether it’s just walking a mile or lifting weights with them,” Taketa said.

And someday should you happen to see a retired public school teacher trying to do the best that he can be remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

Email the Big Dog at waiakeabigdog@aol.com.

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August 1, 2011 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Healthy Harry Kim, ‘Looking for a Job’

Harry Kim

We don’t become successful in life by just hoping it will happen.  To achieve success we need strength of body and mind in order to reach our fullest potential.

With that in mind, I’d like to introduce a man whose strong work ethic, attitude and self-discipline epitomize the idea that if we avoid hard work, we avoid doing what it takes to succeed.  

“My parents always told me that the choices I make in life will determine who I become,” former mayor Harry Kim said.

Kim grew up in Olaa and was taught at an early age that work was an important aspect in family life.

“I never knew what it was like to have a day off or what a weekend was,” Kim said.  “We were always working to help the family and that strong work ethic is what made me who I am.”

Kim’s only exposure to sports as a child came from his physical education classes in school as after school activities weren’t allowed in his household.

“I had five brothers and two sisters and we all lived in one room,” he said.  “We all were expected to work 60 to 80 hours a week to help our family make ends meet.  Life was really hard back then.”

Born in 1939 to second generation Korean parents who were hard working immigrants, Kim can recall living with no electricity or running water for the first 19 years of his life.

“The difficulties I had growing up is what makes me so appreciative of what I have today,” he said.

Kim’s first exposure to sports competition came as a 15 year old attending Hilo High when he asked the cross country coach what that sport was all about.

“I had no idea what cross country was and Coach Ho told me that at my age I had to run a 2 mile race.  I thought to myself that it was easy because I was already running that much or more to and from school.”

To be able to participate in cross country Kim needed permission from his mother to take off from work on Saturday and he was given the okay, provided he could still do his chores.

The Kim family raised around 500 chickens and had a large vegetable garden, but a main source of income came from them weaving lau hala mats.

“We needed to pick the lau hala, stripe the leaves, dry them and then weave them into mats,” Kim said.  “Sometimes we’d be up past 9 pm working on the business as we needed to help our parents.”

“On the day of my first race I woke up at 3 am to start my chores, then I hitched hiked to Hilo High and I asked Coach Ho what I should do.”

Barefooted Kim was told by his coach to run with the leader and then pass him in the last 100 years.

“I followed my coach’s advice and I ended up winning my first cross country race,” Kim said

Following high school Kim attended Hilo College and was a walk on to the basketball team.

“I had no basketball skills, but I asked the coach to give me a try and to allow me to stay on the team as I would be willing to clean the locker room and do whatever it would take to be part of the team,” Kim said.

Kim’s work ethic led him to serve two terms as our County mayor.

It was his eight year stint as mayor that Kim encountered a variety of health issues, suffering three heart attacks, back surgery, neck fusion, hepatitis, and peripheral arterial disease (pad).

“I was in pain a great deal of the time and I tried to hide my pain from the public,” Kim said.  “Family members and some of the staff knew about my health problems, but I tried to disguise most of my pain from the rest of the community.”

Kim, who looks healthy and fit, has never drank alcohol, and he believes that his spiritual strength has helped him deal with the multiple problems he has faced over the years.

Kim picked up hepatitis from his trip to Honduras and when he returned from Indonesia he was stricken with an extremely high fever.

“On my return from Indonesia my temperature was 107 and I was immediately hospitalized where many of the doctors thought I was going to die,” he said.  “I know my inner strength and the years of peoples prayers is what has kept me alive and continues to serve me well.”

After four shoulder operations, on his right side, and back surgery in which he had to learn to walk upright again, Kim continues to be optimistic about his health and his future.  In fact, walking even became difficult and painful for him as he tried to balance his illness with the desire to stay physically fit.

“I know this is a spiritual world and that what I put into life is what I will get out of life,” Kim said.

“I want everyone to know that my health today is the best that it has ever been over the past ten years,” he said.  “I am very grateful for what I have and I am blessed for the hand that has been dealt to me.”

Harry Kim is making the most of what he has and he takes a positive approach to everyday life.

“I’m so well that I am going to go looking for a job,” Kim said with a wide grin.

And someday should you happen to see a happy, healthy jogger passing through the streets 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.

July 18, 2011 Posted by | Profiles | , , , | 2 Comments

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