Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve Update

Hi all,

Even though school is out, most of the athletic teams are still out there competing. On Tuesday, I went to the Intermediate Red Softball game vs. Kamehameha White. Our red team is made of mostly 7th graders, some of whom have never played the game before this year. The Kamehameha team was big, strong and experienced. This was a recipe for a blowout, but it didn't happen as our Lady Raiders refused to give up and kept it pretty close for a 4-1 loss.

Wednesday, it was our JV Boys soccer team vs. Punahou Gold. I knew our JV team was good and I expected the Punahou Gold team to be good, and I was right. This was a super game, maybe not if you want to see lots of goals, but if you want to see good soccer this is your type of game. The Raiders dominated the first half but could only score 1 goal. The Puns dominated the second half but could only score 1 goal. Great game. 1-1 tie.

On Thursday, I had planned to see the Boys Intermediate Red soccer team play the Punahou Blue team. But, I ended up driving around so much that day it made more sense to cover the Boys JV Basketball game at the Kalaheo Tournament. Sorry Reds, I'll try to make it up to you. The basketball game ended up being sort of a downer as our JV's had one of those flat nights. It might have had something to do with the fact that Mililani was a real tough team. Mililani took that game, 56-46.

Friday was the opener for the Boys Varsity Soccer team. The opponent was MPI who they had beat handily in the preseason. MPI, though, made a huge adjustment by going into a defensive shell. This made it tough to score but the Raiders figured out a way to win it, 1-0.

Saturday I went back to the Kalaheo Basketball tournament. I heard they played much better on Friday for a win against Radford. On Saturday, they were a completely different team than Thursday. They were intense, they hit their shots, they had lots of steals and breakaways - they were very, very good. Chalk up a big 54-33 win over Punahou Blue.

Tentative Schedule 12/25/06 - 12/31/06

Wednesday - Varsity Boys Basketball at Merv Lopes Tournament
Thursday - Girls Intermediate Tennis vs JV's
Friday - Iolani Wrestling Tournament
Saturday - Iolani Wrestling Tournament

Monday, December 18, 2006

Monday 12/18/06 Update

I did five events this past Friday and Saturday. Friday afternoon it was the big Iolani-Punahou intermediate boys tennis match. Every year it seems to come down to these 2 schools (same on the girls side), so this was a big match. It was very close, as usual, but Punahou pulled the match out with a 3-2 win.

Friday night, it was a short drive over to St. Andrew's Cathedral, where the Iolani Chorus and Hokuloa Singers were giving a Winter Concert. If you've never been to one of these, you are really missing a great show. This year, director John Alexander worked in the harp mastery of Melody Lindsay which made for a an extra special show.

Saturday was a very busy day. First, it was over to Crane Park for the Varsity Softball game against Sacred Hearts. The varsity lost their first game of the season previously this week, so this was an important game if we were to regain the early season momentum. It turned out to be a very good game and a 7-4 win for the Lady Raiders.

I had to leave the softball game after the 5th inning to hustle over to Iolani for the varsity girls soccer game against Pac-5. This was the first game of the regular season for the varsity so I was very excited about seeing how they looked this year. They look good! They completely dominated and earned a 3-1 victory.

Saturday night, I moseyed over to Punahou for the ILH Cheerleading competition. The schools competing were Kamehameha, Punahou, Iolani and Word of Life. Iolani had a varsity and JV team entered in the competition. Kamehameha really dominates in cheerleading and they did again. I couldn't stay to see the official results but I know that Kamehameha won. Punahou had a pretty difficult routine but had a lot of trouble executing. Iolani's routine was less difficult, but to this untrained eye, I thought they executed it close to perfect, so I wouldn't be surprised if Iolani placed second. My guess is that Word of Life placed fourth.

Cheerleading has evolved into a combination of gymnastics and modern dance. Our cheerleaders don't get a lot of fan support which is a shame. Their next match is at Kamehameha, January 8 at 6pm. I recommend attending if you can.

Tentative Schedule - 12/18/06 through 12/24/06

Monday - day off
Tuesday - Probably Int Red Softball vs Kamehameha White
Wednesday - Boys JV Soccer vs Punahou Gold
Thursday - Boys Int Red Soccer vs Punahou Blue
Friday - Boys Varsity Soccer vs MPI
Saturday - day off

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday update - 12/15/06

Monday it was intermediate tennis as the Lady Raiders took on University. University is just starting with tennis this year, as is Island Pacific who was the opponent on Thursday. Both matches were not competitive as the Lady Raiders sat down some of their starters and still won convincingly. It was 5-0 and 5-0 for the Lady Raiders.

Tuesday it was an all Iolani softball game as the Intermediate Blacks took on the Reds. The Reds are made up of mostly 7th graders, while the Blacks are mostly 8th graders. The Blacks are one of the better teams in the league this year. I was hoping the Reds could make a game of it but the Blacks went out to a 10-0 lead before Nani Tanaguchi hit a booming 2 run home run to at least avoid a shutout.

Wednesday, I had a chance to start up with soccer after about a 6 week layoff. The JV boys team took on a good St. Louis team. Both teams showed great intensity with the Raiders holding an advantage in field position and ball control. This eventually paid off in a 2-0 win.

Thursday it was a chance to see the Intermediate Boys Black soccer team in action as they took on a strong Pac-5 Brown team. The Raiders were able to maintain a ball control advantage in the first half, but one defensive lapse cost the Raiders a goal. The half ended at 1-0, Pac-5.

The second half was tighter as Pac-5 seemed to be gaining momentum. It was still close but it was Pac-5, again, that hit pay dirt. The Raiders couldn't get their offense going as multiple offside penalties conspired to limit the scoring opportunities. It ended 2-0 in favor of Pac-5.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Tentative Schedule - 12/11/06 through 12/16/06

Monday - Girls Intermediate Tennis vs University
Tuesday - Intermediate Softball - Iolani Red vs Black
Wednesday - Boys JV Soccer vs St. Louis
Thursday - Boys Intermediate Black Soccer vs Pac 5 Brown
Friday - Boys Intermediate Tennis vs Punahou, Chorus and Hokuloa Christmas Concert at St. Andrew's
Saturday - Varsity Softball vs Sacred Hearts, Girls Varsity Soccer vs Pac-5, Varsity Cheerleading

This week the regular season starts up for soccer, so I will have another sport competing for my time. I will be giving soccer a lot of priority in the next few weeks because this is the time where soccer starts, but basketball hasn't started yet. Softball and tennis have had the stage pretty much to themselves so far. The regular season for basketball will start right after the new year. At that time, I will give priority to basketball, with soccer also getting a lot of attention. I hope to have everything even out by the end of the season, at least that is my goal. Please realize that there are lots of activities competing for my time, not least of which, family responsibilities. I will try to keep things as fair as possible.

I will be doing the Iolani Wrestling tournament at the end of the year, but I will NOT be doing the Iolani Classic. I wanted to do the Iolani Classic and actually thought I would be able to, but there was a mix up in communication and it turns out that it's not going to happen. I'm very sorry.

Another fun week!

It was another mostly softball week for this photographer with one tennis match on Thursday.

On Tuesday, the Iolani Intermediate Red Softball team took on a big, tough St. Francis team. I have a great sequence of "contact softball" on my Iolani Events website if you want to take a look. St. Francis was too much for the younger of the two Intermediate teams on this day as they won with a 5-1 score.

On Wednesday, I had a chance to see the Varsity Softball team play again and jumped at the opportunity. This time it was against a very sharp Pac-5 team who I believe was also undefeated going into the game. Both teams were on their game defensively, as superb play after play kept the game scoreless all the way until the 5th. The Lady Raiders then caught fire and were able to win 4-1, but this was really a hard-fought, nail-biter type win.

Thursday, it was off to Mid-Pacific to see the Girls Intermediate Tennis team see if they could keep their win streak going. This match wasn't going to be easy as 3 starters had other school commitments that kept them from the match. Coach Allison did some major juggling which, in the end, worked out well. But this victory was far from easy. The final score was 3-1 with the 3rd doubles match having to be called due to darkness.

Friday it was time to pay another visit to our friends up the road, Punahou, for a JV Softball game. Last Saturday I saw our varsity pull out a 3-1 victory over the Puns. I certainly wanted to see a repeat but I knew it wouldn't be easy. As it turned out, the Lady Raiders, playing in the cold, dark and blustery conditions, matched the varsity with their own 3-1 victory. The field had both sun and shade almost throughout the whole game which made it tough for photography. But, the girls provided plenty of good material for some spectacular shots with many good slides, steals, and good defensive plays.

Saturday I was planning on going to the Intermediate Basketball Tournament at Punahou, but I decided that since it was still preseason, and I had so much other work to catch up on, I would have to miss it.

I'll be back with a tentative schedule for next week later.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A great end to a super softball week!

I covered 5 Iolani softball games and one tennis match this week. ALL WINS!

First it was the girls intermediate tennis match vs. Maryknoll. 5-0
On Tuesday it was the Int Red softball team vs. Sacred Hearts. 12-6
Wednesday it was the Varsity softball team at MPI. 6-0
Thursday it was over to Kamamala Park for the Int Black softball team vs. St. Francis. 6-3
Friday, the JV team also played St. Francis. 9-0

And, on Saturday, it was the biggie. Our varsity vs. Punahou. All Punahou matches are big. This one, for early bragging rights, looked like it was going to wind up in the Punahou column. The Puns led almost throughout the whole game. But, after Iolani tied it at 1-1, the Lady Raiders came up with 2 huge runs to steal the game in the last inning.

I know all weeks won't be as sweet as this one was, but please let me savor it for a day or two!

A few photos from the varsity game:

Tentative Schedule 12/4/06 - 12/10/06

A word about my scheduling just so you know what I'm thinking. I know I've been giving priority to softball and I will be giving softball priority again this week. The softball games are regular season games, so even though soccer and basketball are starting up, I understand their games to be pre-season. My philosophy is to give regular season games priority even if I'm neglecting other teams I haven't covered. Once the regular seasons start I will give priority to teams I haven't covered as much, so I hope it evens out as much as possible.

This week:

Monday - day off
Tuesday - Int Red Softball
Wednesday - Varsity Softball
Thursday - Girls Int Tennis
Friday - JV Softball vs Punahou
Saturday - Tentatively the Intermediate Basketball Tournament at Punahou

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Report from Footlocker - 2

Hi All,

December 2nd Saturday

Well the big day has finally arrived. There are kids from all over the western United States here. Last night a bus with 60 runners showed up from Idaho. It was really noisy up until 10 Pm and then it got really quite. I guess that was lights out. We got up this morning at 5:45 AM uhhhhhhh. Really, who wants to get up and go to one of the biggest races in the west at 5:45? Not me! My race was at 7:05 am. It was still dark out!!!!. We arrived and oh my god, I was nervous. I was in many layers. My running jersey, my Nike lycra top, my Footlocker t-shirt, and my light warm up jacket. And I was still freezing! I had a hard time tying my shoes because I couldn't feel my hands. They had a huge jumbo screen showing highlights from past years and music playing the Olympic Anthem. The music was very inspirational. The TV guys had set up platforms all over the course so you could watch it live on the Internet. There were already hundreds of runners warming up for their races. There are always two races going at once and one more lining up to start. These Mt. SAC guys are GOOD!! At 7:00am the race officials informed us they were going to run the boys with the girls because there were not enough of us girls. I hate that because its hard to tell where you are. And some of these boys with long hair made it hard telling who's who, no offense. I lined up next to Tiffany Heflin (last year's winner). The gun went off and we were gone. It was a real fast start. I passed the half mile in 2:43, Tiffany was 2:35 and gone. Hit the mile at 5:54 but Tiffany was already way ahead. Her mile split was 5:35. A lot of California girls are running that fast. I really wanted to see Jordan Hassey's start but we would have had to wait two hours for the girls seeded race. But we wanted to go to Universal Studios. Actually I'm going right now. I'd like to give a huge THANK YOU to Al Linsky for this awesome blog and beautiful photos. Also Valley Isle Road Runners, for all their support, and help getting me to this race. This was a very important learning experience and I'm looking forward to coming back and medaling.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Report from Footlocker!

Lea Lundblad will be competing at Footlocker. She will be sending me a journal of her experiences. Here is the first installment:


Hi All,

We are sitting here at the airport waiting for our flight. This is my third flight I have taken this cross country season. It’s been a long season. I started training in July and here it is almost December. American Airlines arranged for me to have three seats to myself so I can sleep. I say FLY AMERICAN AIRLINES!!!! They are really nice. Going on these trips takes a lot of planning. My dad got me a new Asics uniform but the shop on Maui could not get Seabury printed on the front in time so my dad sent it to CBS studios in Hollywood. My dad’s brother (Uncle Roger) is in charge of set designs for the studio and they are having it printed and then dropped off
at our hotel. I thought that was cool. We are here. We knew we were in LA because two cars almost got in a wreck right in front of us.

It’s Friday the 1st of December. We just walked the course and picked up my race number. Wow, Mt Sac. is really cool. There are even TV stations setting up to film the race. We met Doug Todd who is the race director. He asked me to come back next year. Well we are going back to the hotel to rest and get ready for the big day. More later. Lea

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Iolani Varsity Softball Opener A Good One!

The Iolani varsity softball team opened the season with a strong performance against MPI at the immaculate MPI field. I've never shot a game at the MPI field but I have to tell you, this is one great field for not only the players, but for the photographer. Usually I shoot from on the field and I did take quite a few from the field. But, there were some real interesting locations on the hills surrounding the field that in some ways were better than being on the field.

The game? 6-0. Iolani's offense and defense were clicking. For a detailed rundown of the game, please visit the Iolani Events website.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

It's Softball Season!

Yesterday our Intermediate Red Softball Team (pretty much all 7th graders) beat Sacred Hearts, 12-6. It was an exciting game with many lead changes, lots of errors, lots of passed balls, lots of hit batters, lots of stolen bases, a bunch of singles and a few towering triples. To summarize, there wasn't a lot of defense on either team, but it was still fun!

I always am asked what my favorite sport is to photograph. It's a tough question because I really enjoy every sport I shoot. One thing I really get a kick out of is producing a "Sports Illustrated" quality photo. This means that the indoor, low light sports have a big disadvantage. I don't believe in using a flash during athletic contests. It is too disruptive and has the potential to affect the game. I do have the needed quality equipment to still be able to cover the indoor sports, but there are lots of hoops I need to go through to get an acceptable product.

The sport that probably has the most opportunities for fabulous photos is soccer. The light is usually very good and the action is continuous. With a long lens (I use a 140mm-420mm zoom) I can pretty much cover the whole field. A close second to soccer would be water polo (during daylight). This makes sense as water polo is very similar to soccer in a lot of ways.

Which sport is the most challenging? In my opinion, it is softball/baseball. The really great shots in softball or baseball are spectacular plays made by the defense. It is very difficult to get a great shot by just following the ball. You need to anticipate the play. So, if there are no outs or 1 out, and a man on first that can run, what do you get ready for? You either focus on first for a pickoff throw to first, or on second for the steal. There is lots of guesswork but when you guess right, the payoff is big. I need to really be on my toes, always thinking, to have a good day doing softball!

Football has some of the same characteristics as softball.

The hardest sport to photograph is probably indoor volleyball. The light is usually poor. The action is fast and somewhat unpredictable. Another very difficult sport is judo. This is one of the fastest sports I cover, the light is also poor, and the participants have their head looking down almost continuously. Very tough!

Every sport has it's idiosyncrasies. It's fun figuring them out!

To see more photos from yesterday's game, please visit my Smugmug galleries.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Girls Intermediate Tennis Continues To Roll!

On Monday, at the Iolani tennis complex, the girls intermediate tennis team showed their depth and strength in a different way. For varying reasons, 4 starters were not available to play. With most teams this would be a recipe for disaster. But for this team, Coach Alison has a lot of options. She moved the girls around and STILL won the match 5-0 with the only contest being truly competitive at 1st singles. Next up, Mid-Pacific Institute.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Tentative Schedule 11/27/06-12/3/06

Monday - Intermediate Girls Tennis
Tuesday - Intermediate Red Softball
Wednesday - Varsity Softball
Thursday - Intermediate Black Softball
Friday - JV Softball
Saturday - Varsity Softball vs Punahou and Hokuloa at Ward Center

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Iolani Intermediate Boys Tennis Also Very Strong!

After being impressed by the 2006 edition of the Iolani Girls Intermediate Tennis team, I was curious to see what the boys team looks like. Like the girls, the boys are defending ILH champions. I'm happy to report, that like the girls, the boys look deeper and better than last year. Maryknoll's team was admittedly weak (5-0 in less than an hour!), but it was obvious that Iolani has talent up and down the lineup. Yes, it's only the first match of the season but the possibility for a sweep from both the boys and girls is there.

Punahou tends to be the largest challenge and I'm sure they'll be there with their usual excellent team. And, of course, with tennis you only need a few top players to turn a program around, so there is always the chance that someone else will be able to challenge this year.

Next match is Tuesday vs Le Jardin, at Iolani, 4pm.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Repeat for Iolani Girls Intermediate Tennis?

Last year the girls intermediate tennis team went undefeated, beating arch rival Punahou, twice, to win the ILH crown. It wasn't easy, though, as Punahou was as deep as Iolani. Every match was close, and the finals came down to a tie-breaker between two 1st singles players that refused to lose.

And, that last match lasted 2 days as the overall score was tied at 2-2, the first singles match was just starting a tiebreaker, and the skies opened up.

Just think about it - 2 intermediate tennis players going to sleep with the knowledge that the next day they would play a tiebreaker to decide the ILH champion. Talk about drama!

This year the Iolani team looks deeper and better to this observer's eyes. Yesterday was the first match of the year against an over matched Kamehameha team. Usually the intermediate crown goes to either Iolani or Punahou. I haven't seen Punahou this season yet. You can pretty well count on Punahou to be there at the end, but it only takes a few players to join a team to change the landscape so maybe there will be more teams in the race at the end this year.

Friday, November 17, 2006

HHSAA State Championship XC Photos Now Available!

Concerning photography for the State Champs in XC, this is what I know.

1. I was told I couldn't cover the meet as there was an exclusive contract with another photographer.
2. I thought that photographer was Rebelshots, but the evidence points to the fact that they have closed down.
3. One of Rebelshots' ex-employees covered the volleyball matches.
4. I don't know why, but no one covered the State Champs in XC.

When I found out that no one covered the XC meet, I contacted the HHSAA and let them know that although I didn't cover the States like I usually do, since I was only taking photos for my personal use, my school and my websites, I do have some photos. I concentrated on Iolani (both boys and girls), the leaders (I'm guessing maybe the top 20, maybe more), and the awards ceremony. I have been given permission to put up my photos in galleries and offer them for sale.
I am treating these photos like any other. They are the same prices and I will offer the same lower prices for the first 2 weeks, starting today.

I will also offer collages and posters. Posters could be really good for my OIA or outer-island friends since I may only have one good photo of your athlete.

To see some sample posters, please visit
To see sample collages, please visit
To visit the photo galleries, please visit
Thank you for your support.
Coach Al

Tentative Schedule - 11/20-11/26

Monday - Girls Intermediate Tennis
Tuesday - Boys Intermediate Tennis

XC States 2007 - Girls Top 10 Prediction

Predicting the top 10 girls at next year's state championships is fraught with danger. 1 year is a long time for an injury to occur, interest to wane or gain, a new athlete to appear, coaches to improve or mess someone up. Please keep in mind that I'm no expert. I just happen to attend every (ILH) XC meet every year and really LOOK at everyone. Tends to happen when you are taking their picture. I have drawn heavily on the results from States but have made some adjustments based on my own observations. These are totally my thoughts and I certainly know that I'm going to miss some kids and not be aware of certain important situations. So, without further ado...

Thoughts I'm working with:

There were 8 seniors in the top 25 at States in 2006.

Julie had a relatively injury free but busy season. She did have a hamstring problem but it wasn't major. She performed consistently at a high level throughout the season.

Kristin Ali Keith - great young runner.

Jenna Wong - much improved. Has not reached her potential yet. A great future is in store.

Malia Kagawa - Just gets better and better. Will be a senior next year. Will be in the mix at the top.

Hailey Grossman - Only 9th grade. Had a good race at States.

Haley Abing - Was sick the 2nd half of the season but still ran tough. If healthy she could have won it all this year. She is my favorite for next year.

Kristi Torkildson - Good solid runner.

Farrah Manaday - Got better as the season went on. Will continue to improve.

Dayna Domingo - The few times I've seen her I was impressed.

Dara Pagaduan - A mainstay for Kamehameha.

Katie Pellitteri - Sustained a pretty serious injury in the middle of the season that cost her 3 weeks of training. She did everything she could to rehabilitate but couldn't quite get back to challenging at the top. She will come back and be in the mix.

Cheyane Kamai and Emma Broderick - will team with Dara to form strong core for Kamehameha.

Keilani Wasson - I like how she runs. Should have a better season in her senior year.

Amanda Tamanaha - Ran sick at States. Unlucky timing. She would have done pretty well if healthy. She's young, good and tough.

Lea Lundblad - only an 8th grader but could be the best female runner to come out of Hawaii, since, well - Lauren Ho. That wasn't so long ago was it? The only question I have with Lea is can she be as good at 3 miles as she is in the 800 and 1500 and 2 miles? I think I know the answer, but I haven't seen her at this distance yet. She has awesome sprinter speed when she needs it. She will challenge for the top in 2007.

My prediction (guess) for top 10 for States in 2007:

1. Haley Abing
2. Julie Besenbruch
3. Lea Lundblad
4. Kristin Ali Keith
5. Jenna Wong
6. Katie Pellitteri
7. Kristi Torkildson
8. Farrah Manaday
9. Malia Kagawa
10. Amanda Tamanaha

As always, I'm interested in your thoughts. Comments are welcome, especially if I missed someone.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Crowd Wanted!

The Iolani boys varsity water polo team is playing Punahou at 6pm, Thursday, November 16 at Kamehameha Schools pool. Iolani beat Punahou 8-6 this past Friday. We need to do it again. Please come and support the team!