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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Sacrifices made for sports

By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

Junior golfer Cyd Okino, 12, practices her swing under the watchful eye of her dad, Cyrus, at the Olomana Golf Links in Waimanalo. Cyd has a full schedule of tournaments this summer, and Cyrus supports her all the way.

DEBORAH BOOKER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Soccer mom Linda Kaneta drops off daughters Kristi, 10, left, and Kelli, 14, at Kapi'olani Park for practice. Kaneta describes the family SUV as a "kidmobile," filled with school books, extra clothes and sports equipment.

REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Fourteen-year-old Michael Suiter, center, along with his parents, Mary and Max Suiter, watches older brother Matthew, 16, play with the Punahou baseball team at Hans L'Orange Field in Waipahu. Matthew went to the Babe Ruth League World Series last year, and Michael plays football, basketball, baseball and soccer. Mary Suiter, who was in organized sports in high school and college, said her sons have always loved sports. She said the family spends a few thousand dollars every year on clothes and equipment.

JOAQUIN SIOPACK | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Ah, summer. School is out and the time has come to pursue those alluring family vacation plans except, perhaps, for those who are the parents of young athletes, and have had their summers planned for them.

Cyrus Okino, father of a junior golfer, said regular vacations are out of the question for his family.

Okino's 12-year-old daughter, Cyd, will play in the U.S. Amateur Women's Public Links tournament in Pueblo, Colo., this summer.

"Our whole lives are dedicated to her golf games," he said. "We do nothing else. We haven't had a vacation in six years."

Okino, like many parents of young athletes who are posting practice schedules on refrigerator doors this month, adapts his own schedule to accommodate his daughter's and spends much of his disposable income paying for the pleasure.

His daughter said her family's schedule this summer will be a full one.

"I go to Pueblo for the National USGA on Friday," Cyd Okino said last week. "I think I'm the youngest to qualify again this year. Then, after that, I go to Las Vegas to qualify for well, I don't even know what tournament I'm trying to qualify for in that. Then I come home to qualify for the (U.S.) Kids tournament in North Carolina. Then, uh ... oh yeah, school starts."

Many parents of athletes say they encourage their kid's hectic sports schedules because they like to keep them focused on positive activities out of trouble and away from television.

One mother said the physical activity makes her children more amenable to early bedtimes, and others said they use sport activities as rewards for good grades or completed homework. Some parents, like Cyrus Okino, can't believe they have the good fortune of watching their children pursue and exceed goals they once held for themselves.

Mary Suiter, mother of Matthew, a 16-year-old baseball player who went to the Babe Ruth League World Series last year, and Michael, 14, who plays football, basketball, baseball and soccer, said that although her husband is athletic, she was the one who was involved in organized sports in high school and college.

"I did basketball, softball, track," she said. "I don't know, maybe it is just in their blood. My sons have always loved sports. Matthew could dribble a basketball when he was 2."

Supporting their activities can get expensive, she said.

"We probably spend a few thousand every year just on clothes and shoes with cleats and bats and mitts and basketballs," she said.

Suiter said the boys' love for sports is a motivational tool.

"From the time they were 5 years old, I would tell them they needed to get their homework done so they could go to practice," she said. "It keeps them very organized."

PARENTAL SACRIFICE

Soccer mom Linda Kaneta keeps so busy with her two athletic daughters, Kelli, 14, and Kristi, 10, that she regularly posts written schedules for the family. Kelli, who hopes to be a doctor when she grows up, was sidelined for a while with an injury but is back at practice. Kristi likes math and wishes she had even more sports activities.

Kaneta describes the family SUV as a "kidmobile": "School books, changes of clothes, cases of water and sports equipment," she explained.

Fundraising helps to get the girls to tournaments on the Mainland, she said, and she and her husband, Wayne, and several of the other soccer parents often tag more traditional vacations onto the ends of those trips.

Myron Enos Sr. may have become the poster child for parental sacrifice on behalf of sports when he quit his truck-driving job last year to watch his son, Myron "Kini" Enos Jr., play for West O'ahu on its nearly one-month march to the Little League world championship for boys ages 11-12.

The elder Enos recovered quickly from his brief unemployment; he now drives for Kamalii Trucking in 'Ewa Beach.

"They gave me a job when I first got back," he said. "And I make more money now."

His hours improved, too.

"He makes it to most of my games now," said Kini, now 13. "With his last job, he had to work on weekends."

Enos said he didn't have a lot of sports activities available to him as a child in the small, Big Island town where he grew up, but he encourages his son, who hopes to play baseball professionally, because he wants him to see what can happen in life when he strives toward a goal.

"I tell him work hard, do your best and pay attention," he said. "And stay in school in case it doesn't work out. You've got to have a Plan B, and if you have an education, you can be the boss instead of a truck driver like me."

CHANGING INTERESTS

Michelle Sologuren's daughter, Jachelle, is for the moment a cheerleader, a sport her mother had embraced in her own youth. The 9-year-old cheers with Pacific Cheer Academy in Pearl City, and has trained since she was 6.

Sologuren, who spends $120 a week on gas, took a part-time job at Mojo Gymnastics to help the family budget. The job also provides an opportunity for Jachelle to take gymnastic classes two or three times a week. The classes help to use up Jachelle's excess energy, Sologuren said, making her more likely to keep a reasonable bedtime.

Jachelle, however, isn't convinced cheering or gymnastics are her sports.

"She's watched her dad play soccer, and she thinks she'd like to try it," Sologuren said. "So we've signed her up."

Jachelle's father, Javier, isn't really flattered, Sologuren said.

"My husband is from Peru, and he has perceptions about women who play soccer," she said. "But that is just my husband. Maybe girls don't play in Peru."

Sologuren said she's OK with her daughter's interest in soccer, even if the cheering falls by the wayside.

"They're gonna turn out how they're gonna turn out," she said.

Cyrus Okino, father of the promising young golfer, set the family up for their busy lifestyle almost as soon as their daughter Cyd was born, said his wife, Lori.

"He played golf in high school," she said. "When we brought her home from the hospital and put her in the crib, he put a golf ball in next to her head. And yes, we dressed her up in little golf caps."

When Cyd was 6, her father cut down three of his own golf clubs and took her out to a course.

"At first, it was probably for my own ego," Cyrus Okino said. "Then it became her career. Now she wants to practice every day."

Cyrus said sponsorships help out with his daughter's expenses, but the family still spends plenty.

"Just the clubs alone are worth $1,000," he said. "We probably spend $7,000 to $10,000 a year traveling to her golf tournaments."

His wife, who makes sure Cyd does her homework, also makes the travel arrangements, he said, while he spends more time on the golf course with his daughter.

SPORTS AND SCHOOL

Cyd said she's lucky to have two parents overseeing her activities, even though her mother's and father's priorities sometimes conflict.

Her father pushes her to excel in golf, she said, and often she is so focused on her game that she is tempted to give short shrift to other demands.

That is where her mother comes in.

"For me," Lori Okino said, "school is first. She needs to be well-balanced, and she can focus on each thing she does."

Homework gets done at the Okino house, even if it means Cyd and her mother stay at it until late. Cyd is an honor student who has never had a grade lower than a B, and although she often feels pulled to the golf course, she said, she enjoys her classes.

She also values the volunteer work she does with the Junior Optimists at school another of her mother's priorities but the philanthropic activities were a harder sell with Cyrus.

"Sometimes they fight a little," Cyd said of her parents. "But it all works out."

The junior golfer said she is glad her mother and father stay within their adopted roles.

"If they switched, I don't think I would survive," she said. "My dad is not very good at school and my mom hardly knows anything about golf."

Reach Karen Blakeman at kblakeman@honoluluadvertiser.com.