Sports Commentary: “Love+Pride=Puna Strong!”: How the Panthers Won their Pop Warner Championship

by J. D. Wacker

“Once you’re a champion, you’re a champion forever,” Mayor Billy Kenoi addressed the Puna Panthers Pop Warner Midget Team prior to their championship game Saturday, November 1. His words became reality that night as the Panthers brought down the undefeated Westside Eagles, 20-18, on the wet and muddy field at Wong Stadium. However, as they raised their trophy high, and the rain continued to fall, they all knew that their recent victory was only a peak of what was a turbulent season for these young men, one young lady, their coaches, their families, and their community.
Registrations, fee collections, the beginning of school, medical exams, league requirements, report cards, fundraising, birth certificates, scheduling, age and weight restrictions, transportation, etc., etc. are all part of organizing a team and can take its toll on any team. The Puna Panthers endured much more.
Struggling economically, the Puna District is not exactly a Dallas suburb with multi-million dollar sports complexes where youth and high school football stadiums are more plush than most universities and rival some professional fields. Assembling a competitive team from an area of low incomes and population is no easy task in itself. This task was initiated five years ago by Keven Lee and is carried today by his father, Kel Lee, the team’s head coach and association president. He has the support of his wife Jackie, daughter Dayna, and his grandson Randen (his defensive coach). Also, he has devoted assistant coaches Kaipo Like and Jimmy and JayDeen Brown and medical assistant Ariel Brown at his side along with many others. Working a table on the corner in Pahoa, and working the phone and internet, Dayna worked tirelessly in the summer months to greet and welcome young athletes with dreams of putting on their cleats and pads and becoming Puna Panthers. Many had played together before, either in Pop Warner or flag football or both, but some new faces joined the team and were quickly made part of the family.
Practices started on the hot afternoons in early August at the field at Hawaiian Beaches Park. Heads-Up training, initiated by the NFL, was the first step in the program, as it was with all Pop Warner teams. Immediately, it was clear there was a generous supply of young talent on the midget squad (ages 12-15). But, then everything changed August 7th with the arrival of Hurricane Iselle. With trees and power lines down and heavy traffic made it difficult for the players who reside primarily in the worst hit neighborhoods from HPP to Hawaiian Beaches, Hawaiian Shores, Nanawale and Leilani Estates, and Kapoho to get rides to practice, but they did. Lack of power for up to three weeks meant getting home quickly after practice to bathe in makeshift showers and do their homework before dark. Their field suffered some damage to its fences and driveways which all needed to be repaired prior to their upcoming games. Routine maintenance to the fields had to wait for weeks until cleanup from the storm was under control. The grass grew a little longer than normal as the team and its leaders continued to balance rebuilding their lives and building a team for the next several weeks.
Sunday, September 7, brought their first challenge on the field from the Champion Panaewa Ali’i. In front of a large crowd of excited fans, the Panthers started their season right with a 38-14 victory with an impressive mix of running and passing attacks. The Panthers followed that more wins, travelling to an all-out war on the field with the Wailoa Razorbacks, a rainy day battle with the Keaukaha Warriors, and a visit to the Ali’i, emerging with an undefeated 4-0 record. During this period, another foe began marching its way toward their town, their homes, and their field: the June 27th lava flow.
It was decided early that in order to avoid potential problems posed by the lava flow to reschedule all remaining games away from the Panthers’ Hawaiian Beaches field. So, their first game with the Ali’i became their only home game of the season and the Panthers would play the remainder of their games on the road. Throughout the season, the players and their families, coaches and staff faced the endless stay-or-go decision. Some moved and some stayed, but most faced hours of sorting and packing in preparation for moving. A few packed, moved their belongings to storage, and then moved back when the front stalled as rents on top of house payments became more than they could bare. Many have found themselves making payments on two homes as they wait for the lava to decide how they will proceed with their lives. But yet, somehow the Panther Nation prevailed and began to grow stronger. Maybe it was, in part, from Auntie Doreen’s (Coach Brown’s wife’s) cooking for concessions. Certainly, questions and predictions about the flow were heard off the field between parents and friends, but there was always an underlying source of energy that was drawing the Panthers closer together.
At 4-0, the Panthers were on top of their Big Island Eastern Division. The other teams shared wins and losses and it looked as if the team would cruise to a division title. That was not how the fierce Wailoa Razorbacks saw the future, however. They clawed and scratched, but the Panthers were not up to the challenge from the Razorbacks and suffered their first loss of the season, 27-18. At the end of what was another war on the field, the Panthers were tired and dejected. They felt as if they had let their coaches and their Puna community down, and most of all themselves down. Tears fell, but they knew that they could do better. After a few days of practice, they realized that the loss was a learning experience and would only make them stronger. They returned to the field the following week to start a new winning streak with a convincing 41-21 win over Keaukaha.
With renewed energy and a solid 5-1 record, the Panthers were poised to finish their regular season against Panaewa. This time, Hurricane Ana had other plans. Once again, with their lives sitting in the crosshairs of another violent storm, Pahoa and its Puna Panthers were in disbelief. They were just beginning to recover from the effects of what was technically “Tropical Storm” Iselle, and now Ana was on her way toward them. The game, whose outcome was meaningless to both teams’ post-season eligibility, was cancelled. On October 18th, Ana decided to spare Puna, for the most part, but still managed to add to what had already been a very stressful season. Starting August 1st, the Panthers’ season had experienced five wins, one loss, almost two hurricanes, and a continuing lava flow, all in the matter of a span of only a little more than two months.
From the start, the photographers from Paradise Photo and Design, Dave and J.D. Wacker of Keaau, who photograph several area events including Big Island Pop Warner football, knew the Panthers were special. They saw the talent, but they also saw the bond this team was forming. Every team has cheers and chants, but when the Panthers came together before every practice and every game and recited their prayer and chant, it was clear they meant what they said. It was more than just words. “Love on three- LOVE! Pride on three- PRIDE! PUNA STRONG! PUNA STRONG! PUNA STRONG!” ended the cheer. J.D. Wacker captured their energy on a video titled, “Puna Strong”, and shared it on Facebook. Within only a few days, the video had been seen and shared by over 6000 people from Pahoa to around the world. The Online Panther Nation had organized, and a never-ending list of shouts of encouragement began to accumulate. It was becoming more and more apparent that nothing, not hurricanes, not lava, nothing was going to take away the heart of the team and its community.
Besides its heart, the team enjoyed the talents of its players and the strength and conditioning established by their coaches. Two of its captains, brothers Kahiau and Keahi Walker, passed by oncoming blockers with their blazing speed to make an infinite number of tackles. The relentless endurance and determination of another captain, Keala Harris, troubled their opposition has he ran, took powerful hits and scored touchdowns on offense, while delivering one hit after another on defense. Finally, Captain Junior Santiago, led his team by leaving defenders in the dust and in the mud as he travelled down the field and repeatedly finding himself in the endzone. Quarterback Kaimi Like maintained control of the offense, threw several passes for long gains to several receivers, including Kepa La’a. Many opponents felt what it was like to be “hit by a girl” as defensive lineman Tiana Jones collected a long list of tackles. A strong offensive line and defensive line led the way for many others as they gained yards and gang tackled throughout the season. This combination of heart and talent plus a steady education from their coaches had prepared the Panther Midgets as they entered the 2014 Big Island Pop Warner Playoffs as East Side Champions.
The first round of playoffs meant a first seed and a longer trip for the Panthers to the Kealakehe High School Field, outside Kona, to face the Kau Lions. The Lions put up a good fight, but the talent-laden Panthers were too much for them. The Panthers returned home victorious, winning 26-15. The undefeated Westside Eagles beat the Keaukaha Warriors to earn their chance to face the Panthers in the Big Island Pop Warner Midget Championship, November 1st, at Wong Stadium in Hilo.
The lava flow made another impact on the Panthers’ season. In the week leading up to the championship game, some schools in Pahoa were closed temporarily and some were closed permanently. Some players were forced to leave their schools, and some were separated from their friends and regular teachers. All suffered from the unknown effects of what may come, but they still kept a positive attitude as they prepared for the upcoming game.
A day’s worth of rain the day before left the field at Wong Stadium saturated and slippery. Two mud pits protruded into the field as three prior championship games and the island’s punt, pass, and kick competition set the stage for the finale between the Eagles and the Panthers. Clearing skies allowed some of the muddy field to dry, but as the teams started their battle, the clouds and rain returned and stayed for most of the game. Prior to taking the field, the Panthers were inspired by a surprise guest in their locker room, Puna’s own very energetic Mayor Billy Kenoi urged the team to “Play the best game of their lives,” “win it for Puna,” and “at the end of the day, SMILE, and enjoy the moment!”
Confident, the Panthers took the field and joined together with their team prayer and Puna Jacks chant in front of the stadium crowd. Both teams were ready to play. One confrontation found a pack of Panther players on top of one Eagle in the middle of one of the pits of mud. The Eagles set the pace in the first half and led 12-8. Both teams hit hard and both teams suffered injuries, including the Panthers’ Kahiau Walker who suffered a broken wrist. As the rain continued to fall at halftime, the Panthers were visibly bothered by the loss of their teammate. As the teams returned for the second half, the weather continued to worsen and the lights were turned on to illuminate the combat which was beginning to resemble a late-season NFL game with muddied uniforms, dirty arms, hands, and legs. Eventually, injuries and time took its toll on the resilient Eagles who managed to score once more. The months of conditioning along with cheers of “Puna Strong” pushed the Panthers into the end zone twice. The extra points scored on a kick by Keahi Walker made the difference, and the Panthers held on to win, 20-18.
Candy lei adorned the Panther players along with their championship medals. An icewater bath adorned Coach Kel Lee as the rain still fell, but no spirits were dampened. Together, they received their first Big Island Pop Warner Midget Champion Trophy, which at about five feet tall was easy to see as it was raised by the team before its faithful group of Puna fans. After all they had endured, the Panthers proved that love and pride together are strong and can conquer all, and that they were truly “The Pride of Puna”.
Images from the Panthers’ Championship Season and other Big Island Pop Warner Teams may be viewed by visiting www.paradisephotoanddesign.com, and clicking the blue Facebook link. Several albums contain images from the season.

J.D. Wacker
Paradise Photo and Design
jd@paradisephotoanddesign.com
808.982.3858

County of Hawaii announces new venues for 32nd Annual HI-PAL Winter Basketball Classic

DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION
101 Pauahi Street, Suite 6 • Hilo, Hawai‘i 96720
(808) 961-8311 • Fax (808) 961-8411

PRESS RELEASE
December 21, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Venue changes announced for HI-PAL Winter Basketball Classic

Sponsors of the upcoming HI-PAL Winter Basketball Classic have shifted tournament venues so public memorial services for U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye may be held at Hilo’s Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.

Upon learning the auditorium is needed for large crowds expected to honor the late senator, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Hawai‘i Police Activities League promptly modified the 32nd Annual HI-PAL Winter Basketball Classic schedule.

“We join all Hawai‘i residents in mourning the passing of Sen. Inouye and are happy to reschedule tournament play to accommodate memorial services for this true American hero,” Parks Director Clayton Honma said. “The Department of Parks and Recreation and HI-PAL thank the 56 teams entered in the tournament for their understanding.”

Memorial services for Sen. Inouye, who died Monday at the age of 88, will occur Thursday, December 27, at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.

The tournament will be played December 26 through December 29. The following gymnasiums will be used:

• Hilo Armory – mixed-gender teams of players up to 8 years old
• Kawananakoa Gym in Keaukaha – boys and girls 9-10 years old
• Andrews Gym at Wai?kea Waena Park – boys and girls 11-12 years old
• Pana‘ewa Covered Play Courts – boys and girls 13-14 years old

Game schedules may be viewed online by highlighting “32nd Annual HI-PAL Winter Basketball Classic” listed near the bottom of the homepage on the Department’s website, www.hawaiicounty.gov/parks-and-recreation/.

Championship games for all but the youngest age-group category will be played Saturday, December 29, at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium. A special skills challenge and dinner banquet will be held at the Hilo Armory on the evening of Thursday, December 27.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 345-9105, or jarmstrong@co.hawaii.hi.us.

-30-

Puna News — Nathan Keliikuli Died In A Surfing Accident

(Media release) — A Big Island man died today, Thursday (May 10), from a surfing injury in lower Puna.

The victim has been identified as 42-year-old Nathan Keliikuli of Keaʻau.

At 10 a.m., Puna Patrol officers responded to a report of a surfing accident at Pohoiki Beach.

Officers learned that Keliikuli had reportedly fallen and hit his jaw on his surfboard while surfing. 
Lifeguards found him unconscious and took him to shore, where they attempted cardio-pulmonary resuscitation until Fire Department rescue personnel arrived and took him to Hilo Medical Center in critical condition.

Keliikuli was pronounced dead at the hospital at 11:13 a.m.

The case is classified as a coroner’s inquest. Police have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

(Submitted by Hawaii Police Department via Nixle.)


Puna News — ‘Dagger Day Celebration’ Wednesday To Commemorate $8.6 Million Gym, Honor Helene Hale

Photo courtesy of Zendo Kern

A dedication ceremony for the $8.6 million Pahoa High and Intermediate School Gymnasium will be held tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. Dubbed the “Dagger Day Celebration,” the school will pay tribute to longtime supporter and former councilwoman/legislator Helene Hale. Hale was integral in getting the 16,077 square-foot facility built.  Primatech Construction was the general contractor.  On hand to celebrate with PHIS staff and students will be Area Superintendent Mary Correa, Mayor Billy Kenoi, State Rep. Faye Hanohano and Councilman Fred Blas.  Recycle Hawaii Executive Director Paul Buklarewicz and Education Director Howard Shapiro are expected to present the Keep America Beautiful “Recycle-Bowl” national recognition award and a check for $1,000 to the PHIS Green Club.

Hawaii News — HI-PAL To Host Boys And Girls Intermediate School Spring Basketball League March Through May

John Robertson art

(Media release) — The Hawaiʻi Isle Police Activities League (HI-PAL) will hold a Boys and Girls Intermediate School Spring Basketball League from the second week in March through the first week in May.

This league is for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade intermediate school students only.

Teams are formed within the interested students’ intermediate schools from Hāmākua to Puna, and will compete against other participating intermediate schools. Outside organizations may participate by representing the school they attend. Home school students and schools unable to form a team can be combined together as a team.

Games will be played at various Parks and Recreation gyms in East Hawaiʻi. A schedule with the different games, times and locations will be provided prior to the start of this league.

All interested coaches are encouraged to call Officer Joseph Botelho Jr. at 961-2220 or the Community Policing office at 961-8121.

(Submitted by Hawaii Police Department via Nixle.)

Kea’au News — Winner Of ‘Goodwill Football Game’ Between Kamehameha And Kea’au Schools To Receive W.H. Shipman’s Kipimana Cup Saturday

“We’re excited to be instituting this cup. Kea‘au already has a strong sense of community and W.H. Shipman is proud to be a longstanding part of it. The Kipimana Cup lets us celebrate Kea‘au—a truly great place to live and work.  What better way to come together than a friendly game of football?”  — Bill Walter, W.H. Shipman president

(Media release) — W.H. Shipman, Ltd., (WHS) in concert with Kea‘au and Kamehameha-Hawai‘i High Schools will inaugurate the Kipimana Cup Saturday, August 27, to support Kea‘au area high school athletics.

The cup will be presented to the winner of a goodwill football game between Kamehameha and Kea‘au High Schools at Kea‘au’s home field. The JV game starts at 3 p.m. with varsity kicking off around 5 p.m.

“We’re excited to be instituting this cup,” said Bill Walter, president of WHS.  “Kea‘au already has a strong sense of community and W.H. Shipman is proud to be a longstanding part of it. The Kipimana Cup lets us celebrate Kea‘au—a truly great place to live and work.  What better way to come together than a friendly game of football?”

The Kamehameha Schools Hawai‘i campus opened on former W.H. Shipman land in 2001 and serves approximately 1,120 keiki, grades K-12, and their familes from Waimea to Waiohinu.  Read more

***Commentary*** Congratulations Hilo Senior Little League Champions!

Congratulations to our Hilo senior Little Leaguers who defeated a Texas team yesterday. There are still a couple of hours left before the plane carrying the 14-year-old to 16-year-old champions, along with their coaches and parents arrives at the Hilo International Airport. There is expected to be quite a crowd, including Mayor Billy Kenoi, to welcome home the teenagers. Good for them! What a feeling. We have such an array of talent here on the island, and certainly some talented Little League players. Recall that Hilo teams have won the world series in Little League before. I have to wonder if these are some of the same kids.
In any case, cyber high fives to the players, their coaches and supportive parents.

***Commentary*** Pure, Good Family Fun At The ‘Skaterport’

Photos and text by Tiffany Edwards Hunt

In the days since the Paradise Roller Girls’ bout with the Sockit Wenches, a Seattle-based roller derby team with the Rat City Roller Girls, my 3-and-a-half-year-old daughter has been asking to go back to the “skaterport.” That’s Cocospeak for roller derby. (She calls a highway a “race car festival.”)  My daughter was mystified by Saturday’s show at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium. I was too.  It was definitely one of those girl-power, empowering nights.   I can envision my daughter among the Big island Babes junior derby girls several years down the line — Her and her friend Gracie Good Girl. Gracie Good Girl is in “stroller derby.”  Her mom being among the Paradise Roller girls, that’s what daughters of roller derby girls do.  They stroll with their mamas on skates.

Derbutante Diva, my good friend Kim, has been sharing her derby-girl stories with me. I have loved living vicariously through her, imagining the day she and I will stroll and skate.  But after watching my friend Derbutante Diva and the other Paradise Roller Girls take a lickin’ from the Sockit Wrenches the other night, I have thought long and hard about jumping into the derby-girl life.

It must feel quite empowering to make some hits and score some points.  I found myself in a reverie, envisioning my stockings and transforming into some bad-ass archetypal self for derby.  On our drive home, my husband said aloud he was afraid I would decide to be a derby girl after going to a bout. We talked through my initial fantasy, and I concluded with him that I would actually rather crash cars than crash elbows and hips.

I was the 1999 Powder Puff Demolition Derby Queen in the Wyoming State Fair — the one and only time I was in a demolition derby — and I’ve had a reoccurring fantasy the last 12 years about completely demolishing another car.  On our drive home we talked about ideal cars for crashing in the demolition derby and what would make good roller derby names.  A Lincoln would be the best car for demolition.  Cadillac would be ideal, but I wouldn’t want to crash a Cadillac on principle.  As for derby names, well, RollaDoobie got a big laugh.  The winner, which I’ll paint on the driver’s side of my demolition derby car if I ever have one again, Tiffinator.

Just because I won’t be trying out for the team doesn’t mean I won’t go root on my good friend and her derby-girl teammates.  Just a few minutes in the auditorium Saturday and I wanted to bust out the cheerleader.  By the time Derbutante Diva was in the pack making her way around the track, I was shouting from the stands, “kill her!” playfully referring to the jammer from the Sockit Wrenches trying to make her way through the Hawaiian Honey Badgers’ pack.  Hawaiian Honey Badgers is actually the name of  all-star members drawn from four teams of Paradise Roller Girls.  If you go to paradiserollergirls.com, you will get the low-down on how Paradise Roller Girls is to be structured as the organization expands.

Standouts among the Hawaiian Honey Badgers Saturday were my friend Derbutante Diva, #27, of course, she’s my friend, and jammer Smash-Yo-Face Stace, #111.  She definitely scored her fair share of points. Here is a short video of her in a jam and a blooper involving a referee.  Along with Smash-Yo-Face Stace, I also saw some good plays from Tsunamea, #25; AvaTart, #411, and Kourtney Karbash-u-in, #14.

I have to tell you honestly, I was completely lost on rules of roller derby and how the Sockit Wrenches were able to score more than 200 points to the Paradise Roller Girls’ some-odd 50.  Yes, the program has a cheat sheet, but I was too busy people-watching — there were so many people in the stands! 

There was so much visual stimulation, not just on the track but in the stands.  I met a woman named “Fox” and her dog named “Pup” who Fox described as “Super Dyke and her Super Dog.”  “How do you spell ‘dyke’?” I asked.  “D-y-k-e,” Fox said, as she adjusted her cape and allowed me to snap a photograph.

In the crowd there were some dressed to the hilt, and some to stand out or just plain be silly.  Behind the Sockit Wenches were three women from the Red Hat Society — Priscilla Eggleston, Ruth Larkin, And Charlotte Ciera.  Priscilla reported that women from the Red Hat Society usually take up two rows for the bouts.  “It’s cool,” she said.

 I met a group of women— Michelle Ross, looking debonair in a fedora, Katherine Tirrell, and Kelii Tirrell — rooting on Princess Slay-Ya and Baby Bash U-In, of the Big Island Babes Junior Derby.  The women were all in bright pink and made colorful and inspiring black, white, and pink signs and fans supporting their keiki.
That’s right, fans, as in a hand fan to keep you cool.  You definitely needed a fan in that auditorium with all those hot and sweaty bodies packed into the bleachers.

There were so many people packed in there, it felt like a town meeting to me! Do UH-Hilo Vulcans basketball games attract that many people?  I ran into people I haven’t seen in years.  Some people I spotted in the crowd wore tee shirts reading, “I (heart) boobs” or “I (heart) whiskey, which could be purchased from one of the vendors at the entrance to the auditorium.  The co-captain of the team is Anita Whiskey, #90 proof.

One Paradise Roller Girl named Screaming Swan sat in the audience with an elaborate hair-do — her bangs turned into a rose.  She didn’t let her third trimester of pregnancy stop her from being a spectator.

Pacific Roller Derby, the traveling roller derby from Oahu, also had a match with the Sockit Wrenches — see, it’s actually Wenches, I’m just really not with the lingo yet.

Unfortunately, our group of friends missed the first half of the bout and didn’t see the Pacific Roller Derby versus the Sockit Wenches.  I didn’t know what to expect, this was my first bout.  We had dinner at Miyo’s before heading over to the auditorium.  While, the Japanese food was delicious, and I definitely recommend eating at one of the surrounding restaurants before the next bout, I would just make a point of finding out when exactly doors open.  That was my mistake, I should have scheduled dinner an hour earlier than I did.

In any case, I’m so glad that we went and took our children.  Thanks to Jennifer Mydock (www.bigislandfacepainter.com), there was face-painting for the children and parents who wanted to get funky.  There were a handful of vendors, including one who sold Filthy Farm Girl soaps with a derby-girl theme.  There was plenty of noise, but my baby was still able to fall asleep.  I rested him in his car-seat carrier and ultimately could concentrate enough to try and make sense of the game.  I do need to study the program to know exactly how the derby is won.  According to the program, there are 2-minute jams with skaters in a pack consisting of blockers and jammers trying to skate through the pack as many times as possible in that two minutes.  You read the directions and it seems a lot easier to understand than when you’re watching in live.  But I’m sure the more I go, the more I’ll understand.

Truly, though, it was good family fun, and I am inspired to become a super fan, wearing the signature colors of purple and turquiose to root o the girls.  I may even look into getting some pom poms.

The next time there is a bout — I believe in November, head on down to the “skaterport.” We’ll be there, with our signs and pom poms, trying to figure out the basics of play, rooting on Derbutante Diva and the rest of the pack.

Derbutante Diva, #27, with Mana Yim, a super fan.

 

Hawaii News — LavaKids Precedes Lavaman At Keauhou Beach Resort Aug. 27-28

(Media release) — Children of all ages can vie in fitness fun Saturday, Aug. 27 at LavaKids, a community event presented by the Keauhou Resort as part of the 2011 LAVAMAN Keauhou.

Saturday activities start with registration at 7:30 a.m. for the LavaKids Youth Aquathon, which moves this year to Keauhou Bay. Kids 7-and-under can compete in fun runs while keiki aged 8-14 can sign up for swim and run competition. Also on tap is a motivational sports clinic presented by participating LAVAMAN triathletes.

Entry fees are $15 for keiki over age 7 and $10 for those 7 –and-under. Participants get a t-shirt, race medal and awards party at the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort and Spa.

The Keauhou Resort presents the 2011 LAVAMAN Keauhou, a 1.5K swim, 40K bike and 10K run Sunday, Aug. 28 headquartered from the Keauhou Beach Resort. It is open to solo competitors and relay teams. For event info, including special event room rates at the Keauhou Beach Resort, visit http://www.lavamantriathlon.com/keauhou/.

(Submitted by Fern Gavelek.)

Hilo News — Paradise Roller Girls To Host ‘Midsummer Night Scream’ Derby Bout Aug. 13

(Media release) — It’s a Midsummer Night Scream in Hilo! Hawaii Island’s Paradise Roller Girls are hosting Seattle’s Rat City Roller Girls’ Sockit Wenches and Oahu’s Pacific Roller Derby all-stars, the Hulagans, in a derby double-header. The event is scheduled for Sat., Aug. 13 at Hilo’s Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium. Doors open at 3 p.m. and the first bout starts at 5 p.m. with the Hulagans vs. the Sockit Wenches, followed by Paradise Roller Girls’ newly-named all-stars, the Hawaiian Honey Badgers vs. the Sockit Wenches.

Tickets are available now at www.paradiserollergirls.com or from your favorite derby girl. Other outlets include CD Wizard, Mountain View Village Video, Akmal’s Indian Food, Kalapana Village Cafe, Jungle Love and at the door the day of the event. Pre-sale ticket price is $10, $15 at the door. Selling out is anticipated so get your tickets early! Children two and under are free. Please, no strollers, coolers or beverage containers; concessions will be available inside.

Aug. 13 will also debut PRG’s all-new Junior Roller Derby team, the Big Island Babes, with a scrimmage between the bouts. With 35 girls ranging from 8 to 17 years old, the Big Island Babes Junior Derby started in June of this year. Read more

Hilo News — ‘Street Seen’ Contest This Saturday Will Raise Hilo Skate Plaza Funds

(Editor’s note: A version of this story appears in the June 8 edition of Big Island Weekly.)

By Tiffany Edwards Hunt

Organizers of “Street Seen,” a street-style skateboarding competition set for Saturday, June 11, 2011, hope to raise $1,000 to produce promotional DVDs for a multi-recreational facility they want to see built in Hilo for skateboarders, BMX riders, roller derby girls, and roller hockey players.

Hilo Skate Plaza Coalition — the group spearheading the effort for a 25,000-square-foot skate plaza, roller derby track, hockey rink, and BMX pit — will host the skateboarding competition on the section of road fronting the canoe halau on Hilo’s Bayfront.

Street Seen is a play on words to call attention to street-style skateboarding and to showcase the sort of plaza that skateboarders would like to see built —  a series of ledges, walls, high banks, stairs and handrails intermixed with landscaping, according to Jeremy Hale, one the event’s organizers.

For the Street Seen competition, there will be a panel of four to five judges that will rank teams of skateboarders that pass through obstacles.  As the skate teams “pop over” rails and hop on and off ramps, ledges and boxes, they will be judged on difficulty of tricks, style, and both how well they landed and rode away after doing tricks.

“Going out there, whoever is throwing the gnarliest tricks, if there are four people and only one is doing well, the team isn’t going to win,” Hale said. He admits that it’s “kinda weird” that the competition will center around teams, given that skateboarding is for solitary practitioners. But the arrangement will serve its purpose as a fundraiser, in that area skate shops are being asked to donate $150 for their shop’s teams to participate.  Those skate shops — or, any business for that matter — that want to participate that don’t have teams are asked to donate $75 or the equivalent in prizes and a team of “free agents” will be organized on their behalf the day of the competition. Read more