Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Robert Otsubo the ‘man’ all about one on one coaching

Robert Otsubo

When I used to coach, both cross country and track & field for more than two decades here on the island I had a reputation as being strict but fair.

Something like the late Ken Yamase which I emulated as he became a role model for me.

Strict but fair!   I was a no nonsense coach and I learned from the best.

That didn’t stop the boys from coming out for cross country at Waiakea.  In fact my last year of coaching the Warriors I has 64 boys turn out for the team.  That same year we lost the Big Island Interscholastic Championship to the then perennial league champion Hawaii Preparatory Academy by a mere 2 points.

Which brings my thought back to that year, it was 1999, and for coming so close I was named Waiakea’s Coach of the Year.

Every year prior and every year since I had athletes that would quit on the team and it was nothing that I’d take lightly.  I figured that if you were a quitter you’d always be a quitter and amount to nothing in life.

One young person proved me wrong and it was from this person that I learned a real lesson on how to coach.

The year was 2004 and during that time I became a real coach. 

I saw one of my cross country runners, a kid that had quit the team several times before, at the starting line of the Big Island Marathon, attempting his first 26.2 mile race.

Robert Otsubo I thought, what possibly motivated you to take on such a task?  And are you going to quit this too?

During his first three or four miles into the race I found myself actually coaching him, talking with him, getting him to slow down from his adrenaline rush and save himself for what was ahead.

I talked with him the entire way and shared valuable knowledge about the course which I had done myself many times before.

I became a coach that day and Robert Otsubo became a MAN.

At mile 22 I told Otsubo to go ahead and have a strong finish, which he did coming across the finish line in 3 hours 29 minutes and I was two minutes behind.

We both came across that finish line because he came back for me, holding each other’s hands high to signal victory while Otsubo set the new course record for those 18 and under.

It stands today as one of my proudest coaching moments as I believe that is what ‘real coaching’ is all about and I have a new found respect for Otsubo, the MAN.

Later he would write “thank you for teaching me so much about running, motivation, determination and commitment.” 

Otsubo is currently in the military and deployed to far off Kyrgyzstan where he recently ran his first half marathon a distance of 13.1 miles.

Otsubo enlisted a year after graduating from college, in 2010 and his current military occupation is ‘Aircraft Hydraulics Specialist’.

“I have a great appreciation for the discipline the military take pride in,” he said.  “I rather dislike machines – ironically my MOS (military occupation specialty) – and am trying to cross train, but my learned discipline is what keeps me going.”

“This was a true competitive race,” Otsubo said.  “In seven years, I was more than just deciding I was just overdue for a good race.”

Otsubo used his first half marathon as a training gauge of how fit he is because his Air Force career is important to him.

“I haven’t gone more than one week without running since 2003,” he said.  “Aside from running, I swim, and when I’m home I love surfing.”

Otsubo short term goals are to score a perfect on his upcoming physical fitness test, which is a requirement for him to enter into Combat Rescue Officer field.

As for diet Otsubo tries to stay clear of processed, high calorie and sugary foods.

“I try to make sure most of my meals consist mainly of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains,” Otsubo said.  “I stopped drinking soda in high school and I’ll stick to drinking water 95 percent of the time.”

But deployment also means struggles with what he consumes.

“Depending on where I am and what I have access to, this can take a bit of creativity to eat healthy,” Otsubo said.

It is people like Robert Otsubo that make coaching all that worthwhile and now he serves his country, a noble young man like so many of the others, both men and women who serve.

Otsubo is one of the many reasons I will continue to host the Big Dog Family Veterans Day 5K run/walk on November 11, from Coconut Island starting at 7:30 am.   All those in the military are free including those wearing a grey ribbons or pins of HOPE to show their support for brain cancer survivors and their families.

“When I’m having one of those homesick days, I’ll read a running story on line at the Tribune-Herald web site and it takes me back to those days at Waiakea and reminds me of my roots,” Otsubo said. 

Someday should you see a grateful American thanking the many service members for their service remember to ‘smile’ and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

Email the Big Dog at waiakeabigdog@aol.com.


November 5, 2012 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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

Commentary on the Kahuku Football Suspension

Kahuku Football Team Suspended from Playoff Pacticipation

The problems at Kahuku High concerning their football program continue to gain media attention and public sympathy.

The issue, as I understand it, involves an ineligible player on the football team’s roster.  As a former high school coach I know full well that student/athletes need to meet certain requirements in order to play.

At Waiakea High School we had one of the best Athletic Directors in the State of Hawaii, the late Ken Yamase.  

Ken would always grade check ever athlete and would notify the coaches immediately should there be any questions about that athletes eligibility.

Yamase was a no no-nonsense Director who would insure that everyone on the playing field was legal.

My point here is where was the Kahuku Athletic Director and why haven’t the media started talking with him concerning an athletes eligibility?

Joseph Witford III, the Kahuku High Athletic Director according to their web site, to my knowledge has not been mentioned in the media.  Instead family and friends of Kahuku try to circumnavigate themselves around a rule.

I was at Kailua High School in 1964 when their football team was stripped of a championship for an ineligible player. 

Now, 46 years later, a group of people have decided that a rule that has applied for decades in Hawaii school athletics can and should be ignored or somehow solved within the court system.

I would simply like to hear from Kahuku’s Athletic Director concerning this matter.  How was this athlete able to slip past him during his watch?

Your comments on this topic are welcomed.

November 10, 2010 Posted by | Editorial | , , , | 8 Comments