Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 4, 2001

UH track making up lost time

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer

One of the first things you notice about Carmyn James, the University of Hawai'i Wahine track coach, is the lack of a timepiece.

No stopwatches around her neck and not even a watch on her wrist.

For a year now, practically from the time she became a finalist for the UH job, James has sworn off all watches, except during practice hours.

It is a way of reminding herself, James says, "To keep things in perspective and not try to do everything in one day."

In periods of hurry up and wait, it is a device, she says, "To focus and pace myself. To take one day at a time and not get overwhelmed by all there is to do or to look too far ahead."

That's a wise plan when you are attempting to build from scratch, and on a shoestring budget, a track program disbanded 16 years earlier.

It is a sanity-saving approach when the first, second — and third — inclination is to try to make up in one giant leap for the absence of a sport that was dropped in 1985 to open the way for softball.

Otherwise, things like still not having new uniforms two days before you depart for the first NCAA meet, the Bob Mathias Fresno Relays in Fresno, Calif., might make you want to scream.

Getting the school's 17th and newest sport off and running poses a set of considerable hurdles that dwarfs anything else the Wahine will run this year. Consider, for example, that because its own track won't be renovated until this summer and the team is forced to practice at several sites at different times, it usually meets as a group only one day per week.

Some of the field athletes practice weekend evenings at Punahou School and the discus throwers at 8 a.m. at Cooke Field.

And when the Wahine run practice meets, it is in three heats of two runners each since the other six lanes on the Cooke Field track are a puka-marked obstacle course. "It is gonna be interesting when our athletes line up in this (Fresno Relays) and find, Wow! . . . there are seven other runners along with them," James says.

Such are the daunting growing pains that confront the Wahine and their coach in this inaugural season. Yet, there is a pioneering, can-do spirit to meeting the considerable challenges that loom for the 21-member team.

There is, despite just eight scholarships in their debut season, a goal to place at least two athletes in the NCAA Championship meet. There is a focus on rewriting much of the dust-covered Wahine record book, event by event, starting with the high jump. Mostly, there is the intention to build a foundation for the future.

"There is so much to do that you can get ahead of yourself and miss the big picture by getting caught up in it," James says. "But what we've done so far has been exciting and fun."

Especially when you aren't on the clock.