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Hanama‘ulu diamond gets volunteer makeover

HANAMA‘ULU — Excitement was in the air on Monday as members of the Kaua‘i Krush female youth softball squads performed their warmups prior to taking the improved infield at Peter Rayno Sr. Park.

In the background, parent volunteers of the Kaua‘i Krush readied the field for the young players, watering down the new infield, and picking up any last-minute debris, including bigger rocks that were missed by the girls.

“It’s time the girls get the feel of the new field,” said Kassie Wong, one of the Kaua‘i Krush coaches. “They’ve been working hard. Now, they get to feel what a good field feels like. They all — the youngest one was 4 years old — worked to hand pick the bigger stones.”

A large corps of Kaua‘i Krush parent volunteers and players got help from Ka‘iwa Construction and Roger Taniguchi General Contractor to do major park improvements with heavy equipment and truckloads of sand that included taking out the former grass infield, professional-grade leveling and mixing the sand with the existing park soil to improve playability.

“We’re not done, yet,” said one parent volunteer. “We’re getting new bases installed, and are waiting on the top coating. But that’s small steps to the overall park improvements. We’re ready to have the girls try this out.”

Clifford Lee, of the Hanama‘ulu Hillsiders Kaua‘i Senior Softball team, said the overall goal is to try and improve safety for everyone, not just the senior softball players, but the young players as well.

He is looking into finding the source for the “fine dust” the senior softball players experienced during their play on the mainland. The dust would be the top coating for the work already done.

Lee said currently, the Hillsiders are in charge of keeping the park maintained. Working with the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation, Lee said that, eventually, the county would be able to hire staff to keep the grounds maintained.

“We’re working with everyone, the Kaua‘i Krush, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Hillsiders to get this park to a condition where, eventually, we can host tournaments, here,” Lee said. “We’re kind of in charge right now. But we want the younger people to become involved because, one day, they’ll have to take over.”

Lauren Rosare of the Kaua‘i Krush is also excited about the result of the intensive work weekend.

“We are very, very excited with how it turned out, as we were eager to make the field safer, not only for our girls softball league, the Kaua‘i Krush, but also for the community,” Rosare said.

“Prior to the field improvement, we did have an incident where one of our girls got hit in the face by a ball because of the unleveled field. That incident was enough for our head coach Kassie Wong to put things into motion to make these improvements.”

Safety concerns have been at the root of discussions for a long time, Lee said. “I’m glad we could finally do something about it.”

Rosare said all of the work would not have been possible without the help of the Kaua‘i Krush coaching staff, and the generous donation of material and equipment by Ka‘iwa Construction.

“We would like to extend a huge mahalo to Al Leong, Brent Sugahara and Nick Vegas from Ka‘iwa Construction,” Rosare said. “We would also like to thank our Krush coaching staff, including Head Coach Kassie Wong, and Assistant Coaches Lono Brede, Kana Brede, Rory Ellamar, Kamuela Van Gieson, Brittnee Balonick, Shannie Wong and Paka Ornellas for coming out on Christmas Eve to get this project done.”

The Kaua‘i Krush softball program includes about 80 players participating in teams from under 8 to under 14 age classes, including several high school students currently trying out for their high school softball teams.

Following the inaugural Kaua‘i Krush practice on Monday, the Hanama‘ulu Hillsiders will host play on the improved field on Saturday, Jan. 21.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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