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Big Island Student Athletes Honored at Kaimana Awards

June 17, 2012, 9:41 AM HST
* Updated June 18, 3:25 PM
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Ten schools and 22 student athletes were honored for their on-field success, academic prowess, community service work, and sportsmanship at the 2012 HMSA Kaimana Awards and Scholarship luncheon at the Hawaii Prince Hotel in Waikiki Saturday.

“The HMSA Kaimana Awards & Scholarship Program is the only program in the state that rewards academics and athletics as well as sportsmanship and community service,” said Robert P. Hiam, HMSA’s chief executive officer.

Scattered from across the state, the 22 student athletes that received scholarships from HMSA received $3,000, an increase from previous years. Five of the 22 student athletes were called “distinguished” scholarship recipients, and received an additional $2,000.

Twenty-one of the 22 Kaimana scholarship winners were in attendance Saturday. Photo Credit: Josh Pacheco.

Three of the 22 young adults came from the Big Island Interscholastic Federation (BIIF). Erin Carvalho of Kamehameha Schools Hawaii was the first recipient of a Kaimana scholarship, and was also named a distinguished scholarship winner. She is a three-sport athlete, competing in swimming, track and field, and cross country, where she was a team captain.

Unfortunately, her life changed in 2008 when her mother passed away. In her application to the selection committee, she credited the support of Auli’i Nahalu-Kirsch, a teacher at Kamehameha-Hawaii, who not only supported her during that difficult time in her life, but also opened Erin’s eyes to an interest in becoming a teacher. She will attend the University of Hawai’i at Manoa to work toward that goal, but, technically, she has already started, working with toddlers as a volunteer for Easter Seals Hawaii.

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Konawaena High School’s Camille Ricketts was the next recipient of a Kaimana scholarship. This four-sport athlete competes in cheerleading, cross country, swimming, and tennis. Among her accomplishments off the field is her volunteer work, which includes volunteer work at the Life Care Center of Kona as a student athletic trainer. She is heading to the University of British Columbia to study science and pursue a nursing degree.

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Trevor Yamagata, also from Konawaena, received the final BIIF Kaimana individual scholarship. Yamagata was the captain of his school’s soccer team, as well as member of the tennis team, where maybe his biggest contribution came from. He decided that he would do his Eagle Scout project on something he used nearly every day during the spring, his school’s on-campus tennis courts. He worked to fix up those courts, giving the younger classes a better surface to enjoy, even if he won’t be able to enjoy them. He will be attending Pacific University in Oregon to study science, hoping to become an optometrist.

Two BIIF schools received Kaimana awards for their athletic department’s overall work. In Division I, Waiakea High School won their third award, fueled by the ten BIIF championships won this past year, and highlighted by the school’s first state baseball championship. Football players helped with construction of the Panaewa Zoo’s playground equipment, and athletes participated in the “Purple Pinkie Project,” which raised awareness for the eradication of polio.

The Division II award went to the Pueo of Hualalai Academy for the second consecutive

Hawaii football coach Norm Chow gave the keynote address at the HMSA Kaimana Awards luncheon. Photo Credit: Josh Pacheco.

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year. No, they may not be a powerhouse and league champion on the field, but they have been consistent winners off of it. According to HMSA, school senior Nicholas Steger, son of administrator Dr. Rick Steger, has been working on a sustainability project in Panama. He also has put together a 3.96 GPA and achieved varsity letters in three sports.

The luncheon was hosted by father-and-son play-by-play greats Jim and Kanoa Leahey, with a keynote speech from University of Hawaii football coach Norm Chow, who asked students to “walk with a purpose” and “pay it forward” when continuing to achieve their goals beyond high school.

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