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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, September 12, 2001

America's bloodiest day
On somber day, O'ahu teams continue to practice

 •  This is no time for fun, games

By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer

Soon after Radford High School cheerleading coach Bo Frank was awakened by a 3:30 a.m. phone call yesterday, he knew there would be no cheering in the afternoon.

Roosevelt High football players were out in force yesterday, but finished practice about a half-hour earlier.

Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu Advertiser

The caller was trying to reach Bo's father, Larry, a manager for American Airlines. Earlier than most Hawai'i residents, Frank would learn about the nation's worst disaster ever. And with 24 military dependents among his squad of 27, he figured they especially would not be in the mood for pom-poms.

"At first I thought there would be no school," Frank said. "Then I heard on the radio that school was open. (Athletic director) Eddie (Maruyama) told us, 'Use your discretion' about practice, so I decided to give them the day off.

"I knew some kids wouldn't want to (cheer)."

Frank's team did not practice yesterday, but most of the high school athletic teams on O'ahu did.

Twenty-three of the high schools contacted by The Advertiser said their coaches were given the OK to practice, although a few said the workouts would be shortened. Like Frank, many coaches were given the option to cancel, and others who did hold practice said absentees would not be punished.

The Castle and Kailua bowling teams usually practice at Kane'ohe Marine Corps Air Base, but all military bases were on full alert and closed to civilians yesterday, so their practices were canceled.

The Kailua soft tennis team also canceled practice.

At Roosevelt, athletic director Rodney Iwasaki told his coaches to try and end all practices by 5:30 p.m., as opposed to 6 p.m. or later as usual.

"Because of this crisis, the kids still need time to look at what happened," Iwasaki said. "I asked the coaches to end practice a little earlier so the kids can get home and be with their families."

After meeting with other school administrators, Campbell athletic director Duane Izumi made a similar request to his coaches.

"We told them to give appropriate talks to their teams, and to make the practices as short as possible," Izumi said. "We also won't hold it against anybody for missing practice. A lot of parents came to pick their kids up right after school."

Mililani athletic director Glenn Nitta said all military dependents were excused from practices.

And Mid-Pacific athletic director Don Botelho, who also is the Pac-Five football coach, declared all practices "optional."

"Some parents feel their kids should come home," Botelho said. "Some kids need to wait until later to be picked up anyway, so they might as well practice. But there'll be no penalty if they miss it."

Kahuku athletic director Linda Semones said practices would have been canceled if school was closed, but since school was open, practices went on.

"If you're going to have school (open), you can't really justify not having the activities that go with school," Semones said.

Still, the talk of the day was terrorism, not sports. And that was among the students who actually showed up.

At Radford, where about 70 percent of the student body are military dependents, absenteeism was unusually high. Frank, who teaches health and guidance, said "at least 10" students were absent in each of his four classes.

Attendance at football practice, however, was almost normal.

"We were only missing six (players)," Radford coach Kelly Sur said.

Senior fullback/defensive end Cortez McCoy showed up, despite concerns about his Air Force father.

"He's on the East Coast, so I was wondering if he was near (the tragedies)," McCoy said. "I don't know if this will make him stay there longer."

Sur said he believed it was best to go ahead with practice.

"We told the kids that it's just like in life," Sur said. "Things will happen that are out of your control, but you still gotta do your job."

Senior linebacker Alberto Gilroy, who lives at Hickam Air Force Base, agreed.

"We still gotta practice," he said. "We still gotta work hard."