COVID-19 impact on Kalani athletics

Lily Washburn, Features

With 2020 Hawaii high school fall sports postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many student-athletes have expressed the importance of resuming athletics at Kalani as soon as possible.

The Hawaii High School Athletic Association announced WHEN? that the start of football, cross country, cheer, and girls volleyball has been pushed back to January 2021. 

“All interscholastic practices will also be added to the list of suspended activities, in addition to the competition, in an effort to minimize the potential community spread of the COVID-19 virus,” according to the HHSAA website., 

The date for athletics to resume is yet to be confirmed and will depend on when the HHSAA assesses that it is safe. 

I truly believe athletics at Kalani should resume because it plays such a huge role in the student experience.”

— Ocean Vuong

Kalani Athletic Director Gregory Van Cantfort explained that the decision of when to resume Kalani athletics involves many layers of decision-makers before it gets down to his level. 

“As part of Kalani’s Administrative Team, my main focus is to work on the steps needed to get our students to return to campus when those above me determine it is safe to do so,” he said.

Kalani student-athletes have expressed their concerns surrounding the situation. 

“I truly believe athletics at Kalani should resume because it plays such a huge role in the student experience,” Kalani volleyball player Ocean Vuong (12) said. 

Vuong explained that he’s had a great experience playing sports at Kalani and believes that athletics contributes to the overall enjoyment of high school. 

Van Cantfort highlighted that sports at Kalani enhance students’ school engagement and sense of belonging. However, he explained that the impacts of the lack of sports this year go far beyond the athlete. 

“It impacts the socialization of our general student body as they are unable to attend athletic events, our teachers are unable to engage with our students outside of a classroom setting and families lose out on seeing their child excel in a sport,” Van Cantfort said.

I do cross country and track and I really want to get a scholarship for both of those sports.”

— Gosei Doi

Tania Tanuvasa (11) explained that if sports failed to re-open this year, colleges would only be able to rely on athletes’ performances in competitions from previous years. 

“It will significantly affect the athletes, especially the upperclassmen, who are relying on athletics for their educational careers,” Tanuvasa stated. 

“Many athletes would not know their last meet or game would truly be the last chance to really show their capabilities,” Tanuvasa said. 

Gosei Doi (11), who also expressed the importance of resuming athletics at Kalani, is an example of a student directly affected by this. 

“I do cross country and track and I really want to get a scholarship for both of those sports,” Doi said. 

Tanavusa emphasized that in this current climate, athletics are needed more than ever because they provide a sense of normality. 

“I believe the sense of normality will help the athletes mentally, physically, and emotionally,” she explained.

Although students collectively agree that having sports at Kalani is essential, they also understand that the safety of students and staff must be prioritized. 

“We would have to follow the safety measures and guidelines first,” Lin Meyers (10) said.

I do not want to give any false hopes or doomsday projections with so many unknowns. However, I remain responsibly optimistic!”

— Gregory Van Cantfort

If Kalani does resume sports in January, we will have to adapt to the challenges presented by COVID-19. According to Van Cantfort, the pandemic has forced the DOE to reevaluate their overall budget to meet the needs of schools, leading them to place a restriction on the athletic budget. 

This will have a direct impact on coaches’ payroll, athletic transportation, athletic supplies, and equipment. 

Van Cantfort explained that the common agreement between athletic directors and principals is to make every effort to have a Spring Sports season.

“I do not want to give any false hopes or doomsday projections with so many unknowns,” Van Cantfort said. “However, I remain responsibly optimistic!”