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Little leaguers the highlight of a huge sports weekend

By Dave Reardon

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:09 a.m. HST, Aug 29, 2010



Sometimes we get a great sports weekend like this one.

First, on Friday, a couple of big events we could actually view in person (and it was a tough choice, since they were at the same time).

A huge early-season high school football game, Kahuku and Saint Louis. The Red Raiders won, and looked unstoppable doing it. Kamehameha lost, too, to Farrington, so Kahuku is clearly in the driver's seat as the No. 1 team in the state.

Then there was the University of Hawaii volleyball season opener. The fifth-ranked Wahine performed unevenly against No. 22 San Diego. But, ultimately, UH had something USD didn't. Make that someone: Kanani Danielson.

BUT AS is often the case for us here in Hawaii, many of our big "local" sports stories are unfolding far from our shores.

And can you think of three more diverse endeavors and participants than B.J. Penn fighting to regain his UFC crown in Boston, Michelle Wie in the hunt for LPGA Tour win No. 2, in Canada, and Waipio in the Little League World Series, in Williamsport, Pa., yet again? A team from Waipio is playing for the overall championship for the second time in three years.

Mixed martial artist Penn and golfer Wie have been on the scene for a long time now. For both, their celebrity transcends their sports.

Little League is quite a different phenomenon.

It's refreshing, and not just because the hometown team is winning ... again.

These Waipio players and coaches are never going to be famous just for being famous. For them, it's not about endorsements and reality shows. It's about what they've achieved and hope to achieve on the playing field while representing their family, league, town, state and country.

But it's also still for fun. That's what the coaches keep trying to tell the kids, even in the most pressure-packed situations. If you lose, don't worry, you can still play baseball tomorrow ... one of the coolest recurring stories we hear from the LLWS each year is about teams that are eliminated from the tournament playing each other in games -- just for the enjoyment of it, nothing at stake, no TV, no championships.

Just playing baseball, like real kids.

At Williamsport, once again we have kids from here who are really, really good at baseball fundamentals and teamwork. And they have excellent coaches who don't let the pride and humility combination get out of kilter.

Managers like Brian Yoshii of Waipio and Mike Orlando of Pearland, Texas, are nurturers as much as coaches.

Yoshii reminded his team to be humble after a chippy win over Georgia.

Orlando tried his best to keep the fire going and simultaneously lighten the mood for his squad while it was being beaten soundly by Waipio.

Is there more pressure for Waipio today, playing for the overall championship?

There shouldn't be -- it's just kids doing what kids do, playing baseball.

Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at dreardon@staradvertiser.com, his "Quick Reads" blog at staradvertiser.com and twitter.com/davereardon.

 






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