Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lahaina Connections to the Central East Maui Little League State Champions

Congratulations to the Central East Maui Little League team for winning the Hawaii state championship in the Majors division (age 11-12) and making it to the West Regional in California. Now why am I talking about Central East Maui when my blog is about Lahainaluna and Lahaina sports? Why congratulate these kids, most of whom will end up at rival Baldwin? Well that's because there are Lahaina connections to the team.

Nevan Watanabe and Ekolu Watanabe, the sons of my long time Lahaina friend, Ray Watanabe and his late twin brother Reid, respectively, are members of that team. Reid and Ray were two of my best friends growing up in the Paunau subdivision of Lahaina, at the bottom of Lahainaluna Road. We went to Kam III and Lahaina Intermediate together. They both attended Lahainaluna their freshmen year, but transferred to St. Anthony. While at St. Anthony, they joined fellow Lahaina residents Kimo Neizman and Beau Kowalski.

Reid, me and Ray acting silly by the old Pioneer Mill office
on Pauoa Road, where the Senior Center parking lot now stands.

Although Reid and Ray were primarily football and baseball players, they played with me on
the Lahaina Rainbows menehune basketball team our 8th grade year under Coach Al Dasugo.

Through the years, we remained close friends. Unfortunately, Reid was killed in a motor vehicle accident in 2006. It's been a tough 5 years (has it really been 5 years since he died?) but this past summer was a blessing as both Reid and Ray's sons were selected to be on the Central East Maui All-Star Little League team (majors 11-12).

Ekolu Watanabe, son of Reid Watanabe

Nevan Watanabe, son of Ray Watanabe

They won the state title and were playing this past week in San Bernadino California in the West Regional. This is the level where, if they win the regional, they go to Williamsport, Pennsylvania for the Little League World Series. Unfortunately, the team went 1-3 and did not get out of pool play. Hopefully they can qualify again next year and try to make another run.

In addition to Reid and Ray, another Lahaina connection is that another classmate, Carmela Garcia, is married to one of the coaches on the team. And according to Ray, the mother of Nathan Facuri is a Lahaina girl (Cathy?). I also believe that a sister of one of the star players on the team, Kawena Alo-Kaonohi, is a boarder at Lahainaluna. So that is why I justify highlighting the team on my blog. Nevertheless, it is my blog and I guess I can write whatever I want on it, right?

If you want to see my photos of the Central East Maui Little League team in action while they were on Maui, check out the following albums on my Picasaweb site:

District 3 Championship v. Kihei
State Tournament v. Kaneohe
State Tournament v. Makakilo
State Tournament v. Kaneohe
State Tournament v. Makakilo
State Tournament v. Makakilo (Championship)

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