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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Key official of HHSAA, ILH retiring

By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer

Kamehameha Schools principal Anthony Ramos, one of the key "behind-the-scenes" figures in Hawai'i high school athletics for the past 10 years, has announced plans to retire on June 30.


Ramos, 65, has been president of both the Hawai'i High School Athletic Association's executive board and Interscholastic League of Honolulu president since 1995. In that capacity, he has overseen many significant changes in both the HHSAA and ILH.

"It's a big loss to both organizations," said ILH executive director Don Botelho, who also sits on the HHSAA executive board. "He's so committed to both programs, and he's been a great person and a great friend to us. It's difficult to think of somebody taking his place."

The HHSAA executive board — made up of principals and executives from each of Hawai'i's five high school leagues — sets policy and approves rules for 32 state championship tournaments for a membership of 89 schools across the state. It also "administers and insures compliance, statewide, with established policies and regulations," according to the HHSAA Web site.

The ILH, which consists of more than 25 O'ahu private schools, is Hawai'i's oldest league and one of the oldest in the Western United States. As ILH president, Ramos has been a leader among school principals in determining league policy and enforcement of rules.

Neither of his athletic-related positions provides monetary compensation.

Ramos' tenure came in a decade of major changes. When he began as HHSAA executive board president, the organization was part of the state's Department of Education and thus received public funding. Soon after, it became autonomous and received almost no government money.

About the same time, the HHSAA was going through a tumultuous 26-month period in which it had four different executive directors. Ramos also oversaw the 1998 hiring of current executive director Keith Amemiya, whose business and law background was a major departure from previous directors who mostly were former athletic administrators.

"We went through some pains," said O'ahu Interscholastic Association executive secretary Dwight Toyama, who was HHSAA executive director in 1996 and 1997. "But with Tony, it was as smooth as it could have been because of his support. It's come a long way."

Since then, the HHSAA has added state tournaments in football, girls wrestling, paddling, cheerleading and air riflery, in addition to expanding the football, softball and girls basketball tournaments to include Division II competition.

Ramos is one of the few HHSAA executive board members who was active during all those changes.

"He brought stability to the HHSAA," Toyama said. "With the rest of the representation, there was turnover almost every two years. So Tony's presence was critical because he brought a historical background."

Amemiya said Ramos also brought "the perfect temperament" to the job.

"He's seen it all, and he's always even-keeled and fair-minded," Amemiya said. "Everyone could get a fair shake from Tony, whether you were from the ILH, OIA or any other league."

Ramos fulfilled these duties while also serving as principal at Kamehameha, one of the nation's largest private schools that has drawn students from every Hawaiian island. He has been principal there for 28 years, and a staff member for 43 years.

Ramos graduated from Kamehameha in 1958 and started work as a dorm advisor there in 1962. He later became a teacher, counselor, department head, vice principal and principal.

Ramos has lived on campus since 1962, and will move to an apartment on Beretania Street.

"On campus, you're on call, you're on duty 24-7," he said. "That's life. It's not a burden, but you're in a goldfish bowl. You have to be a role model for the kids. I live in the middle of 500 boarders, and there's never a dull moment."

Kamehameha has changed much during the past four decades, and enrollment has grown tremendously, he said.

"It's time to move on and let other people set the future direction," Ramos said. "But I will be here to help if they want me."

Ramos said his initial plans are to spend time with his wife, Suzanne, and their five children and three grandchildren.

The ILH principals will elect a new president at their June meeting, and the HHSAA executive board will choose a new president probably in September.

Advertiser staff writer Johnny Brannon contributed to this report. Reach Wes Nakama at wnakama@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2456.