October 17 — Now that public school kids are finally competing in preparation sports again, here is the answer to the most popular question I get about the current state of high school volleyball in Oahu:
Yes, they wear masks while they play.
It’s probably irritating for some of them, but that hasn’t stopped Moanalua’s side from enjoying their home opener on Thursday against Kalani. You could tell players were smiling while diving for digs, crushing kills, and dancing during downtime.
Of course, they would have liked to be able to share the energy and fun with their family and friends in the stands, and even with fans with no real connection other than an appreciation for great volleyball.
Empty seats in football were more deplored, but the restrictions imposed by the pandemic made me think more about the prominent place of volleyball in the culture of our state.
Volleyball is truly the iconic team sport of our state (surfing for individuals, of course). Yes, people on the mainland know all kinds of great athletes in various sports produced in the islands, but they also know that volleyball is “our” game – when a small state like ours fills 25% of a list. American Olympic team, that means something to you.
Both Moanalua and visiting Kalani had won their first games earlier in the week. The Falcons are serious, but Moanalua is just too big, deep and talented, and won in straight sets on Thursday.
Na Menehune is not an appropriate nickname for this Moanalua team as they include several very big hitters who hit really hard. They include 6-foot-2 left-handed sophomore Malu Garcia who exudes raw talent.
But in one of those bizarre twists and turns brought on by the pandemic, the visiting team’s points were applauded the loudest during this game; Kalani’s JV and Division II players in the gym outnumbered Moanalua’s. They were loud and proud, even through their masks.
“Wait until we are allowed to have fans next week,” said Moanalua sporting director Joel Kawachi.
Moanalua is indeed a very lively school, with a winning tradition in a variety of sports. The 30 banners that adorn the walls of the gymnasium include one for a national cheerleading championship. (By the way, competitive cheering is the only indoor sport where student-athletes do not have to wear masks while competing.)
There are some important things people need to know if they want to attend Oahu Interschool Association sporting events when it is permitted starting Wednesday. It’s not like you and your family can just jump in the car and go to the game.
1. Tickets must be purchased online at spicket.events / oahu (no student passes, no door-to-door ticket sales).
2. Spectators must present full proof of vaccination and ID upon arrival. (Since full vaccination is required, no children under 12).
3. Masks must be worn except for drinking water, which is the only food or drink permitted.
4. Spectators can only be in groups of a maximum of 10 indoors and 25 at outdoor events. There should be at least 6 feet between groups of different households / dwelling units.
5. Fans cannot “socialize before or after the scheduled event”. Whoever wrote this should have added “on the site of the activity”.
Yeah, that’s a lot of farce, but that’s the world we live in, at least for now. There will be reopening pains for everyone.
The Honolulu Interschool League, a private school, seemed privileged because it got back into competition much earlier than the Oahu Interschool Association, a public school. It’s not fair, but it’s like that because the ILH does not have to adhere to the rules of the state Department of Education like public schools do.
This is one of those situations where it is good to remember that the responsibility of the OIA is for a much larger number of children than the ILH, and therefore there is much more inertia. caused by bureaucracy. Again, nobody’s fault; blame the system.
Things haven’t been perfectly normal for the ILH either. More recently, concerns have been raised about a rule that allows a maximum of two guest spectators per student-athlete. Some parents are concerned this might not be relaxed to something more like the OIA guidelines listed above, which are in line with the recent relaxation of city and state mandates.
These fears are hopefully unfounded, as those involved in policy making in the league have told me they will look to adjust the rule in time for the final games of the regular season.
When it comes to University of Hawaii volleyball, we all know fans can’t wait to step through those turnstiles and watch Wahine in person; it kicks off with the next home game on Oct. 29 against UC Davis.
UH fans have already missed a national championship won by the men’s team last spring. Now the women have a 19-game winning streak in conference and lead the Big West after Saturday’s victory over Cal State Bakersfield.
While this will be done in stages and many fans will have to wait, Rainbows senior Amber Igiede said spectators in the last six home games of the regular season would make a good thing even better.
“We had to create energy without the fans,” she said. “When the fans come it will be 10 times better.”