Athletics’ hands tied by COVID-19


Photo by Dyllyn Kahalehau

Coach Kala scans Mr. O’Brien for his temperature in Keōpūolani Hale as a safety precaution that all students and faculty take. Athletics staff like Coach Kala and Coach Dayle have been reassigned to COVID-19-related duties while waiting for sports to return.

Update: See this Maui News update issued after this article was written. The article announces that schools are able to resume sports practices as early as Monday, March 8.

Since the pandemic started, all sports have been on hold, freeing athletics department staff to help out around campus in other various positions. These include operating the temperature scanner in the Hale and monitoring study hall sessions in Ke’eaumokupāpa’iaheahe.

Given that sports are still on hold, this year’s juniors are concerned about not having the play time for their college recruitment videos. 

Athletic director Jon Viela understands their concerns.

High school sports is just a small window of your playing career. Although it is short, it does have a big impact in your recruitment to college,” he said.

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“As far as high school goes, we are not participating in anything, and Kamehameha Schools has agreed that we will follow the MIL’s plans. In that case we are not doing anything because the MIL has suspended all sports,” Coach Viela said.

He suggests that athletes pursue alternative ways to get the experience for their resumés. Some of the athletes, for instance, are getting involved in the Maui Police Activities League flag football tournament, which was delayed by COVID-19 last summer.

“I think the junior athletes or any of the athletes should be playing outside of high school and use film that way to get recruited,” he said.

The high school flag football tournament is scheduled for March 12, 6-8 p.m., and it will be streamed live from the Lahainaluna stadium.

Coach Viela has hopes that a Department of Education meeting on Wednesday will result in a final go-ahead or cancellation of a spring sports season.

Although sports are still suspended, Dr. Mahina Gago said, “We are working on a reopening plan and hoping to bring some sort of physical activity on campus, but it has not yet been finalized.” 

Coach Mahina is acting in both her usual role of assistant athletic director and also interim vice-principal this year while the school undergoes He Wā Hou restructuring and sporting events are canceled.

While waiting for a plan to be finalized, Dr. Gago is hopeful that any plan “will allow our haumāna and staff to safely use our athletics facilities and get the much-needed stress relief of physical activities.”

With the many changes that the safety guidelines have brought, all three of the athletic trainers are no longer to be in the training room together. Should sports start back up again, they will be positioned in three different areas of athletics, the training room, gym, and football stadium.

With change, come new challenges. The athletics department is faced with maintaining the athletic facilities and making sure that everyone who uses them follows the pandemic rules while still carrying out their regular duties, which include ordering and maintaining resources like uniforms and equipment.

“Be patient. We are trying our best to get sports back, and we want to get all of our student-athletes back in action and stay within the guidelines. I’m hoping that we can get the spring season going,” Coach Viela said.