LAHAINA - Lahainaluna High School honored the 2013 football program at the annual banquet held in the campus cafeteria last week. The 75 student athletes that made up the varsity and junior varsity Luna teams were recognized and applauded by their coaches, family and community supporters at the dinner affair.
Master of ceremonies Garret Tihada welcomed the gathering and introduced the guest speakers after the players sang a traditional Hawaiian prayer blessing to begin the festivities.
Former Lahainaluna player and coach Lanny Tihada, currently the leader of the Friends of Lahainaluna Football organization that is a leading financial supporter of the program, kicked off the evening with a poignant speech that related the true grit of the community affection for the Lunas.
Taylor Kiko Kohler Fonohema (pictured) and Bronson Kaina won the scholarships.
Coach Lanny was followed by Lawrence Kauhaahaa, who guided the team's off-season weightlifting effort that was a leading factor in the success of the Lahainaluna team, which rang up a 10-1 record and was the state's top-rated Division II program throughout the season.
Next up was junior varsity head coach Aloha Kaniho, who introduced his staff, who, in turn, presented each player with his letter award. The varsity team then took the stage as the coaches, led by Coach Garret, presented each player with his award.
The Arthur Osamu "Oscar" Chihara Memorial Scholarship Award is a featured presentation at the annual banquet. The $1,000 awards are given each year to two senior players - selected by the coaches - in recognition of their passion and poise within the Lahainaluna football program, and who most exemplified Oscar Chihara's love of the game. (Oscar was Lahaina News sports writer Walter Chihara's brother.)
In the 15th year of the scholarship award, the 2013 recipients of the honor were Bronson Kaina and Taylor Kiko Kohler Fonohema, both stalwarts of the Luna defense.
Kaina and Kohler Fonohema received the scholarship checks (courtesy of First Hawaiian Bank's Lahaina Branch), a state-of-the-art plaque from Maui Marking Device and a beautiful, hand-sewn lei made by Sharon Nohara.
The award has been funded throughout the 15 years by the Harry W. Gorst Company of Los Angeles, CA, and its president, Michael Heagerty.
Jane and Mike Heagerty were close friends and business partners with Oscar Chihara before he unexpectedly passed away, leaving behind his wife and three daughters.
Before he died, Chihara and Mike Heagerty made a pact that if either of them passed on, the survivor would take care of the other's kids.
The Heagertys fulfilled their agreement and sent the Chihara girls through college. And, in memory of the girls' dad, they established the scholarship award.
"We are so happy to be able to honor Oscar's memory with this award," said Mike. "He was a great friend, and we are honored to be able to remember him in this way."
Coach Garret then gave his closing remarks as the evening - and another remarkable Lahainaluna football season - ended with a stirring rendition of the LHS alma mater led by Lori Gomez Karinen.