Funds help pay bus fares in busy month
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
February is one of the busiest months of the Hawai'i high school sports calendar, with playoffs and state tournaments abounding in canoe paddling, girls soccer, boys soccer, swimming and diving, girls basketball, boys basketball ...
Not to mention scrimmages and preseason games/tournaments for spring sports like baseball, softball, boys volleyball, girls water polo ...
And yet, for most public schools, their 2009-2010 state allocation for transportation has already run dry.
That is where the Hawai'i High School Athletic Association's "SOS" (Save Our Sports) campaign is going to work.
HHSAA executive director Keith Amemiya, who has spearheaded and overseen the campaign since its July 23, 2009 kickoff, released $600,000 from the SOS Fund to each of the state's 45 public high schools two weeks ago. The money was distributed according to a formula accounting for the size of each athletic program and number of participants.
The average amount received was $13,333.33, with some schools getting more and some less.
State budget cuts have left public school athletic departments operating with less than 64 percent of their state allocations compared to 2008-2009, including only half their allotment for transportation.
The cuts particularly impact rural schools and schools that compete in many playoffs and state tournaments.
Since bus rates often vary according to distance, schools in remote areas usually get hit harder. For example, Kahuku's nearest O'ahu Interscholastic Association Eastern Division opponent, Castle, is some 25 miles away.
Kahuku athletic director Joe Whitford said the round-trip bus rate for a game at Castle is $145.
And for schools that have multiple teams advancing to playoffs or state tournaments, the transportation costs get multiplied.
Moanalua's girls basketball team, for example, just played five road games in the past two weeks in the OIA tournament. Meanwhile, Nā Menehune's girls soccer team played four state tournament games last week at Waipi'o Peninsula Soccer Park. Their boys soccer team began their four-day state tournament yesterday.
Moanalua's girls basketball team will play in next week's four-day state tournament, and the boys basketball team — Eastern Division champs — is expected to advance to its state tournament, as well.
Since its kickoff last July, the SOS Fund has raised $1,440,542 through contributions from businesses, foundations, unions, individuals and events/promotions throughout the community.
This past week's contributions include $500 from Microsoft — a matching gift from a previous donation by Jim Takatsuka. (Contributions to the SOS Fund may be eligible for many corporate matching gift programs, doubling the donation.)
To contribute to the SOS Fund, make a check payable to "HHSAA SOS Account" and send it to HHSAA, P.O. Box 62029, Honolulu, HI 96839, or visit www.sportshigh.com
Read his blog on high school sports at http://preptalk.honadvblogs.com