Playing For The Fun Of The Game

For more than 40 years, the KAC (Kalanianaole Athletic Club) Basketball program has been providing children a place to not only play basketball, but also an opportunity to make new friends, stay active and learn many other life skills.

Open to kids from age 5 to 18, the popular co-ed league typically attracts 800 to 1,000 participants. It runs twice a year – winter and summer, with online registration for its upcoming summer league closing at midnight on April 12.


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Kalanianaole Athletic Club Basketball emphasizes learning and fun. Jonah Higashiguchi

“I think it’s a good league because it’s not real competitive – we let kids of all levels enter,” says Ed Hoo, KAC Basketball president. “Some of the other clubs will have select teams where they choose the kids they want to join. We have open enrollment. Anybody can sign up, and then we have a blind draft where we assess the kids and blindly place them on teams. That way the teams are balanced, and the games are fun and a little bit competitive.

“That’s the whole philosophy of KAC, to let kids learn basketball without the pressure of winning all the time.”

KAC Basketball is a nonprofit organization run entirely by volunteers. Registration fees go toward paying for referees, use of gyms, uniforms and insurance.

The summer league starts May 26 and ends Aug. 10, and games usually are played at Kilauea District Park, Kaimuki District Park, Palolo District Park and Holy Nativity School. Games, which are about an hour long, take place Friday night, Saturday or Sunday.

“Generally, most of the kids in our league are from Hawaii Kai to Moiliili, but it’s open to anybody,” says Hoo. “Also, we try to keep our fee low. We want kids from all economic levels to come. We limit practices to twice a week, so kids can do other activities, as well as concentrate on their studies.

“Also, we believe in positive coaching. We teach coaches to not to be too negative on the kids, to not yell and scream at them, but to teach them in an encouraging, positive way.”

Hoo, a contractor, first became involved with KAC Basketball as a coach when his three children were part of the program. That was more than 20 years ago. Now he says he continues to volunteer because he likes what KAC stands for.

“I think this program is good for the kids in that not only does it teach them basketball but it also keeps them off the street, for one thing, and secondly we teach life skills,” he explains. “We have a lot of beginners who never played or were too shy to play, and somehow they’re willing to try KAC, especially at the younger level where it’s not real competitive and more participatory. They play with a lot of different people all the time, and every team they go on is usually a new team and a different coach, so it’s a good life experience. To me, that’s what basketball is about. It’s a venue to teach kids about life.

“Also, at the lower levels, we don’t keep score and we have equal playing time. So, no matter how strong you are, you have the same amount of time. Every parent pays the same fee, so why should the kid whose parent paid the same fee get less play time than the other kid? It’s not fair, even though they’re not as good.”

While KAC is not considered competitive, some of the past participants have moved on to have great success, such as Derrick Low, Ryan Hirata, Kyle Pape and Courtney Gaddis.

Cost for the 2014 KAC Basketball summer league is $75. For details or to register, visit