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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, September 28, 2007

ILH restricts private lessons for athletes

By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Interscholastic League of Honolulu will start enforcing a rule this school year prohibiting its athletes from participating in private "camps" during their respective sports season.

The rule, which was recommended by ILH athletic directors and approved by league principals this past spring, is intended to encourage athletes to take a day of rest during their busy sports week in season.

"(ADs and principals) were concerned that athletes were getting no time off," said Mid-Pacific principal Rich Schaffer, the ILH president. "There was concern about injuries and the kids being pushed too hard."

The rule applies only to "camps" defined by the ILH as "ongoing" sessions that last four or more days and only to team sports. Attending "clinics" defined as "one-time" events that last no more than three days is allowed, Schaffer said.

The biggest impact probably will be on basketball players who attend the popular Kalakaua Foundation clinic, which has been operated by Dennis Agena and attended by thousands of kids for the past 35 years. Kalakaua's fall session is scheduled to run every Sunday through Dec. 23, but ILH participants must stop attending after the Nov. 4 session to comply with the league rule. The ILH basketball start date is Nov. 5.

Agena estimates that out of every 100 kids in the clinic, about 85 are from ILH schools.

"After all these years, I think a lot of kids and parents are going to be upset that all of a sudden they cannot come," Agena said. "We're gonna abide by the rules, but my biggest point is that it should be the right of the child and their parents to decide when to study and when to practice during their free time. They are the ones making the choice to be at the clinic; they want to come to the clinic."

Agena added that his 75-minute sessions are skills-based, focusing on repetitive drills that do not put much extra strain or risk of injury on the athlete. He also said that several clinic participants see little action during their school's practices and games, so not attending a Sunday clinic will limit their opportunity to improve.

"Where are they going to get their reps?" he said.

The rule applies only to designated "team" sports, which means a golfer or tennis player who seeks regular private instruction while in season is allowed to do so. Regular organized private batting instruction for baseball and softball players, however, would not be allowed.

And since the rule applies only to a sport "in-season," an athlete is allowed to attend a Sunday camp in one sport even while playing another sport on the other six days.

Schaffer and ILH spokesman Georges Gilbert said there also was concern about athletes receiving instruction from school coaches during the week and then getting conflicting instruction on Sunday.

Gilbert said rule violations would result in penalties ranging from a warning to suspension or forfeits. He and Schaeffer also said the rule would be evaluated after the school year.

Punahou girls basketball coach Mike Taylor said the Kalakaua clinic has been valuable in building friendships within the ILH community.

"There's an important social atmosphere, where kids from all the different schools can bond," he said. "It helps in breaking down walls and building mutual respect."

Taylor added, "If a kid is struggling in math, he is allowed to find a tutor and work at it during his free time. It should be the parents' choice."

Read Wes Nakama's blog on prep sports at http://blogs.honoluluadvertiser.com

Reach Wes Nakama at wnakama@honoluluadvertiser.com.