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Waialua Girls Basketball Starts Over With Coach Moon

The Waialua girls varsity basketball program may be back at ground zero for the moment, but no one’s complaining. Indeed, after a one year hiatus from competition, the Bulldogs are just happy to be back at work under head coach Michael Moon.

“It’s a brand new start for us,” said Moon, who was previously a JV and varsity head coach at the school. “We have a new athletic director, too, in Bryce (Kaneshiro). He’s a smart guy, and it’s nice to be under someone who supports us like he does.”

The Bulldogs won’t field a junior varsity team this year, but the team opened practice recently with a roster of 14 players. Its OIA season-opener is Dec. 5 on the road versus Nanakuli.

Waialua’s small enrollment makes it difficult to attract large numbers to its sports teams. Other factors also contribute. Girls basketball used to be played in the spring in Hawaii, but it conflicts with soccer now after switching to the winter season.

“Part of it is a lack of kids (trying out) since we’re a small school,” Moon said. “We also have a lot of kids here with double and triple commitments like band or another activity. Kids want to do more than one thing. We have one right now also involved in paddling and another girl who is playing softball.”

For his part, Moon is excited to be back in coaching at Waialua. He spent 10 seasons at his alma mater, Saint Louis School, as an assistant boys’ coach prior to his first season at Waialua back in 2007.

“My wife is from Waialua, and I’ve fallen in love with the community,” he noted. “I love the game and being around youths.”

Five seniors lead the 2012-13 Waialua team. All of them played for Moon as freshmen when he was coaching in the program at the junior varsity level in 2009-10. “They are a great bunch – they’re the core,” he said. “They come every day. We’re trying to develop some depth now (among the underclassmen). All of the kids are coachable, led by those seniors. Being around this group makes you want to work hard for them. They’ve bought into the system and understand that they’re going to have to play together.”

For the long term, expanding the participation level to once again have a JV team is among the goals. Moon talked of planning youth clinics to help introduce the sport to the community as well. The rebuilding phase is somewhat new to Moon, whose teams at Saint Louis always were in the mix in the ILH. “Here we’re just trying to compete. Hopefully, we can compete in games and create some excitement. In the long run, you suffer from not having a JV program to help groom them for playing at the varsity level.”

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