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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, June 2, 2006

Two former Lana'i coaches charged

By Ken Kobayashi and Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writers

Two former coaches of the Lana'i High School girls basketball team have been charged with misdemeanors for allegedly providing alcohol to their players during a preseason tournament in Mililani last year.

Russell Zablan and Dale Kapua, both listed as Lana'i residents, are seeking trials to contest the charges.

Part-time Honolulu District Judge Peter Stone yesterday scheduled Zablan's arraignment for June 13 in Circuit Court because Zablan is asking for a jury trial. Stone scheduled Kapua's nonjury trial for Sept. 20.

The incident led to nine players' being dropped from the team, which almost cost the team its season. The players were suspended from school for allegedly violating the school athletic department's policy against underage drinking.

But the remaining team members — some of whom had not played organized basketball —rallied and finished out the season. The school competes at the Division II level.

The two former coaches are charged with providing alcohol to seven players during the tournament from March 10 to 13 last year, according to the city prosecutor's office. The charges arise from a state law that bans adults from providing or purchasing alcohol to anyone under the age of 21.

Zablan was the head coach and Kapua the assistant coach.

The two former coaches and their attorneys could not be reached for comment yesterday.

But Lanai athletic director David McHugh said Zablan and Kapua were fired after the incident.

"My opinion is that this whole thing has been nothing but a distraction to the kids," McHugh said. "This court case and everything — I know it has to be done. Their parents took care of it nicely, because they tried to not make it (the players') problem."

McHugh said turnout was great this year, with 18 girls trying out and 16 making the roster for the team that ended up with a 7-5 winning season in Maui Interscholastic League Division II.

"They're moving in the right direction," McHugh said. "It's my belief, and I get this from the present parents and coaches, they like the way the program is moving and they believe in the program right now."

He said at the end-of-the-year banquet last year: "My only words to the team was that they revived the program. It's still alive because of you, and you should be proud of that."

Lana'i Elementary and High School has about 640 students, according to the state Department of Education.

Reach Ken Kobayashi at kkobayashi@honoluluadvertiser.com and Leila Wai at lwai@honoluluadvertiser.com.