LAHAINA - With Christian-based guidance more grounded in positive mentoring than technical knowledge of track and field, first-year Lahainaluna High School coaches Andy Claydon and Genevieve Ruvald are leading a revival of sorts in the sport at the historic campus.
Their leadership skills have brought in the largest squad and coaching staff in recent memory - and, moreover, produced a spirit of positive energy not seen at the school's athletic facility in what seems like more than a decade.
Coach Claydon comes from a sports-oriented background in Ventura, California, and has worked as a substitute teacher and as the Maui director of Young Life, an international Christian-based youth mentoring program, for 18 years on the Valley Isle. He has coached football, wrestling and volleyball to complement his work with Young Life.
A record 60 students are competing in the Lahainaluna High School track and field program.
Most recently, he has been a constant force with the Luna junior varsity football team as the wide receiver coach. Ironically, his ascension to the boys track and field head coach position is a first.
"I've been an assistant coach forever, and this is the first time I'll be a head coach -and I know very little about track and field," he said.
What Claydon does know, however, is how to motivate and inspire teenagers into positive action. Thus, his successes with the Luna JV football team and the wrestling program have come hand-in-hand with the Young Life message of trust in God and the family unit.
The pathway seems to have seamlessly continued onto the track oval at Lahainaluna. "We just want to motivate these kids to become their own best self within an 'ohana feeling that represents all that Lahainaluna stands for. We want to uphold those traditions," he explained.
Coach Ruvald has followed a similar pathway to the girls head coaching position for the Lunas. She grew up in Northern California playing volleyball and basketball and played collegiate hoops at the University of California at San Diego.
She came to Maui about three years ago with the NBC basketball camps and joined forces with Dan Williams to establish the Westside Hoops program. Today, she works in functional physical fitness training along with her first-time venture into track and field.
"I feel like I'm answering God's call to come out and work with these kids. It's difficult sometimes, but overall, it's great to be out here working with them," she said.
Claydon and Ruvald have gathered the largest coaching staff for track and field at Lahainaluna in years and attracted a record of 60 student athletes on the team roster.
Veteran mentors Lance Nanod (pole vault), Dan Skousen (distance runners) and Ray Yamat (hurdlers), along with newcomers Chad Ferguson (distance), Bob Michaelson (hurdles), Bernard Lambert (throwers), Bob Duzotell (high jump), Blake Ramos (distance), Jamie Domingo (sprints, relays), Joe Siofele (throwers), Al Souza (throwers), Chelsey Peterson (distance) and Dillon Magalianes (high jump, triple jump) have joined forces with Claydon and Ruvald to lead the Luna revival in track and field.
"I really see a successful family forming here with this team, and I'm excited about seeing these kids learn to give their best and to share what they do with the community," said Coach Andy at practice last week on campus.
"Just look at this beautiful facility and the excitement and joy the kids are expressing. This is wonderful to be a part of."