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Wrestling - Girls & Boys
By Chavis Arafiles '18, Jason Jarett '15, and Amber Rogers '16
A test of true strength and strategy, wrestling has been around since ancient times. It was practiced by ancient Egyptians, Romans, in the original Olympic games by the Greeks, and during the Middle Ages. It's no wonder this sport is so popular at Hawai’i Preparatory Academy (HPA)
Walking into a room and seeing the crowd of people, the mat, and the opponent is what the Ka Makani wrestlers live for. Despite the team’s small size, the 2015 girls team won the first ever HPA State team championship.
Supporting the team is the head Coach Hamilton Ford '05 who was an accomplished wrestler on the team during his HPA career. It has been Ford’s dream to lead a team to victory, and now that dream has been actualized.
Ford relates an anecdote that emphasizes the enormity of this state win:
“There is a painting in the wrestling room [that] is a fairly simple image of two wrestlers engaged in a match, wreathed in the words ‘Ka Makani Wrestling,’ but it was never finished. When it was started in 1987, the coach at the time, Matt Hughes, stopped the artist, and decided that the painting should never be completed until HPA wrestlers won a team title. For 28 years, the painting has remained unfinished. Now that we have won a title, we are contacting the original artist to complete the mural.”
Wrestling at HPA is serious business. This tough sport becomes a lifestyle during the season with practices lasting two hours every day. Through this process, the wrestlers become a “really close family,” says Jason Jarrett ‘15, Team Captain.
“This environment creates what I think is a unique bond amongst teammates, in that you have to know everyone's strengths and weaknesses. There are few secrets between wrestlers.” says Coach Ford.
According to the wrestlers, practices are more demanding than meets themselves. All the hard work pays off when the team gets to prove their skills at their matches.
Lokelani Ching ‘16, comments that this is because, “we drive ourselves to do better than what we did the day before.”
Although each practice ends in a puddle of sweat, wrestlers feel a proud sense of accomplishment. “The biggest highlights from any season are moments when one of our wrestlers achieved a goal that they had set for that match,” says Coach Ford.
“Any student, either returning to or new to HPA, [who] is looking for a rigorous physical challenge, with a strong support group of people that will be both your greatest enemies and your strongest allies, should definitely consider coming out for wrestling.”
As one of the most rigorous sports at HPA, wrestling recruits the most dedicated athletes. It is truly is a sport for elite competitors who are willing to challenge and push themselves. As a wrestler at HPA, a student gains self-confidence along with a “wrestling family.”
Wrestling Head Coach Hamilton Ford '05 is an HPA alumnus and former Ka Makani wrestler. His experience at the school and in the sport offers the best of both worlds when mentoring Ka Makani wrestlers, and causes him to approach the sport from a personal angle.
Ford’s thoughtful focus on the mental aspect of the sport of wrestling springs in part from his experience as an accomplished wrestler, and partly from his full-time campus position as an assistant in the office of the Dean of Citizenship, Honor, and Security. Wrestling remains bound to long tradition. And Ford finds his coaching of wrestlers and his campus job tied together.
A key statement he refutes is the oft-heard phrase “girl wrestlers can’t overpower their opponents,” he said. “That’s just not true. When I wrestled at HPA (2003-2005) we had two girls on the team. Now we have 13. And they are very good. They do overpower their opponents.”
“But in wrestling, you can’t just give up,” he said. “You have to be able to perform when tired.”
Practice, whether it’s physical training or repeated takedown moves, all falls under a guiding principle Ford instills in the wrestlers.
“We tell them, ‘Don’t do this to get through it, make it as hard as you can.’ The effort and attitude will pay off.”