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HBA Coaches Win National Recognition
Ryan Su

The Hawaii Baptist Academy girls and boys varsity cross country head coaches have been named the 2021-2022 Hawaii Coaches of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

First year girls head coach Shelby Tanaka ‘11 led HBA to its third consecutive Division 2 Girls State Championship last December.  At the same event, ninth year boys head coach Aaron Kondo ‘05 led the HBA boys program to its third state title in four years and fourth overall.

There were no state championships held for any sports in the 2020-2021 school year.

These awards are particularly significant as they encompass all schools statewide - both public and private - regardless of division.  Tanaka and Kondo were selected by the USTFCCA despite HBA’s Division 2 status as a small school.

The selection committee apparently rewarded HBA for its overall performance in addition to its Division 2 championships.  If scored together, HBA’s girls would actually have finished in second place overall to Division 1 champion Punahou - well ahead of Division 1 runner-up Iolani - among a field of 22 total teams. The HBA boys would have finished in 5th place overall out of 21 total teams.

For Tanaka, who herself twice competed at states as an Eagle and also ran for the University of Hawaii-Hilo, the season provided much to be thankful for.

“I’ve been fortunate to watch (the girls) grow, not only as runners, but as young women.  I was impressed by their consistent efforts at practice, performance on race days, and courage and perseverance through the longest season in history.”  [The ILH fall cross country season is usually 13 weeks.  This year, since the public schools took a COVID-19 related pause just days into the season, the ILH season was 18 weeks.]

“As the new girls head coach, my hope was to allow our assistant coaches to move into new roles and play to one another’s strengths.”

Kondo shared the similar sentiments saying, “I’m really thankful and proud of the guys and how they improved throughout the long season.  Most of our team is very young and they grew up quickly as the season progressed.”  

He added, “Their success at the end was a huge credit to their hard work, dedication, and mental toughness.”

Tanaka and Kondo also serve as track coaches during the spring season, which is concluding May 13-14 with the state championships.