Athletics Reaches Out To The Community

Department: Athletics

By Jeff Meister, Associate Athletic Director

During the course of a school year, Punahou’s athletic department will host more than 500 events, the majority of which are held on the campus. On any given Saturday, it is not unusual to have five or six basketball or volleyball games going on in the gym. At the pool, depending on the season, a swimming or diving meet may be taking place or a series of Intermediate water polo games. Upper Field may be host to a football or soccer game or a track meet; Lower Field might be entertaining softball or baseball games. This is just a “normal” Saturday. It’s also part of the school’s commitment to serve as a gathering place for the community.

In most years, around 150 non-Punahou events are also held on campus. Of the 27 schools in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu (ILH), 12 do not have facilities that can be used for competition. An additional 8 only have a gym and therefore do not have the swimming pool, football/soccer fields, track, or tennis courts that are necessary to host those competitive events. Through its generous hosting, Punahou provides important support to athletics at these schools.

Fall Sets the Pace

Punahou hosts 8 to 10 major events each year. Traditionally, the fall season includes the Punahou Cross Country Invitational, celebrating its 51st year as the oldest cross country race in the State of Hawai‘i. This year’s event included more than 1,700 competitors from across the islands. At the Intermediate level, more than 20 public schools competed, giving many 7th and 8th grade athletes their first exposure to a race of such scale.

Over Discoverers’ Day weekend, Punahou’s tennis program hosts its Junior Novice Tournament for young athletes new to the sport of tennis. Punahou also serves as the site for the HHSAA State Volleyball Championships. The Girls Division II and Boys Division I matches were played at Hemmeter Fieldhouse this year, hosting 12 teams in each event.

Winter and Spring Full-Court Press

In the winter, Punahou mounts the annual Boys Basketball tournament that invites 14 schools from Hawai‘i and the mainland for four days of non-stop basketball. Around the same time, every third year, Punahou’s wrestling program undertakes a major goodwill tournament, during which hundreds of wrestlers visit the campus and participate in an intensive sporting experience.

The spring season marks two of the major events in Hawai‘i Track and Field: the Ralph Martinson Invitational Meet (named after former Punahou Athletic Director Ralph Martinson) and the Punahou Relays.

The Martinson Invitational invites athletes from all the major scholastic leagues in Hawai‘i, the mainland and Canada. The Punahou Relays, sponsored by the Punahou O-Men, is the premier event of the track season. It is usually the first opportunity Hawai‘i athletes get to compete against each other prior to the State tournament. The meet features the “Hawaii’s Fastest Human” event, a 100-meter dash which showcases the fastest sprinters in the State.

Summer Slam

Community support extends into the summer months. In a cooperative arrangement with United States Track and Field, Punahou hosts six track meets that involve athletes seven years of age and older. In August, Punahou hosts the Hawaiian Invitational Water Polo Tournament. This tournament is the largest in Hawai‘i and one of the premier water polo events in the world, with teams coming from the continental U.S., Australia, New Zealand and many other countries.

A Special Showcase

Punahou’s outreach efforts are an important part of the school’s mission, and the athletic department embraces this philosophy. Over the years, the department has taken great steps to share its aloha with many of Hawaii’s student athletes and their families. Along with the thrill of competition, it is hoped that people will leave a Punahou athletic event with a sense that they have been provided an opportunity to showcase and receive recognition for their best efforts.


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