East Hawaii News

Bowlers Bowled Over By Decision To Drop Sport

June 27, 2014, 10:47 AM HST
* Updated June 27, 10:57 AM
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Less than two months after the shock of Hilo Lanes closing, bowling team parents at Waiakea High School are reeling again after learning their kids’ sport was dropped by school administrators.

Kaleo Chung, whose son Prayse would be a junior on the team, said stunned parents were not given any input on the decision.

Hilo Lanes closed abruptly in May, leaving hundreds of recreational and high school bowlers with Kilauea Military Camp in Volcano and Kona Bowl in Kailua-Kona as the only places to bowl on the Big Island.

Bowling team supporters rallied to keep the program going by organizing to provide private transportation for the boys and girls teams to travel for practices and competitions at KMC and Kona Bowl. The boys bowling team had six members and the girls team nine when the program was dropped.

Hilo, Keaau, Kamehameha, Konawaena and Kealakehe high schools had committed to form a new league, which Waiakea would participate in, Chung said.

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But Waiakea Principal Kelcy Koga and Athletic Director Tom Correa decided to drop the sport earlier this month, Koga told Big Island Now. The Big Island Interscholastic Federation’s deadline for a school to submit its teams for the upcoming season was June 12, and bowling was not included.

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Chung learned of the team’s demise in a call from another parent on Tuesday and scheduled a meeting with Koga on Wednesday. He said Koga suggested that parents petition the BIIF for reinstatement after the deadline, which they are doing, though Koga declined to endorse the petition and wouldn’t guarantee that the bowling program would be reinstated even if the BIIF approved it.

Koga told BIN Thursday it was his decision, after consulting with Correa, to cancel the bowling season this year. “There is no place to practice,” he said. “KMC only has six lanes, there’s the distance, and next year we’re ending the school day later, we saw it as a safety issue,” Koga said. “The safety card trumps everything else.

“I wouldn’t say I don’t support (the parents’ petition),” Koga said. “The larger issue is the practice facility.”

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Chung counters that the Hilo High School bowling team was in the same fix as Waiakea following the closing of Hilo Lanes, yet Hilo is continuing its program. “If Hilo can do it, why can’t we?”

Koga said he consulted with officials at Hilo and Keaau high schools — both are continuing bowling — but “we have a difference of opinion.”

Chung suggested that a meeting team members requested with Correa last spring to discuss issues they had with their coach, including missed practices and team fundraising money that was unaccounted for, might have influenced the decision to drop bowling.

On Thursday Koga said he was unaware of the team members’ concerns. Chung said he spoke to Koga about the funds earlier in the week.

Koga said his decision to drop bowling was “not financial, … not the coach’s conduct. It’s just that there’s nowhere to practice nearby. It could have been golf. If the Volcano course was the only one available for practice, I would do the same thing.”

Later Thursday Chung said that almost two years since the fundraiser, Correa announced this week that bowling team members would be receiving checks for the amounts each had raised for the program. Correa did not return a call on Friday to confirm.

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