Thinking His Way To Winning Ways

Bob Hogue
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Wednesday - October 14, 2009
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Jarrett Arakawa: Iolani’s three-sport star

Thinking might be the most underrated aspect of sports, but it ought to be one of the most important.

Iolani’s Jarrett Arakawa understands that implicitly. It’s part of the reason he’s one of the top-three sport athletes in the state.

Ask him why he loves playing quarterback for the Division II defending state champion Raiders and he’ll thoughtfully explain: “I like the thinking aspect.”

Ask him why he’s been so successful as an all-state left-handed pitcher for Iolani and he explains why being on the mound is his passion: “I try to take advantage of the mental part of the game. When you win the mental game, it’s a real plus.”

Arakawa has been winning the mental game and the thinking game in almost all the sports he’s played while growing up in Kaimuki. Coached by his dad, Jason, strongly supported by his mom, Liane (whom he calls his “No. 1 fan”), and cheered on by brother Marcus and sister Carly, Jarrett became a multisport star in the youth leagues of Kaimuki and Kahala.

By the time he reached the intermediate-school level at Iolani, his star began to shine. Now, as a senior, he’s among the elite athletes on the island. He starts and stars in football, basketball and baseball, all while sporting an impressive 3.5 grade-point average.


That’s called thinking on your feet and in the classroom.

As a junior last year, Arakawa guided the Raiders to the Division II state football championship.

“I like making the reads, following the game plan,” he says. “Coach (Wendell) Look says, ‘No team will out-think us and out-hustle us.’ We may not be very big, but we work very hard. Winning the championship last year was an amazing feeling.”

This year, with impressive wins over both Division II and Division I foes, Iolani is once again the D-II team to beat in the HHSAA state tournament later this fall.

In basketball, Arakawa’s heady play led the Raiders into the state basketball tournament last year. Playing forward despite being only around 6 feet tall, his thoughtful and team-oriented approach to the game helped the Raiders to a third-place finish in the state tournament last winter.

But it’s baseball where the talented leftie is making his biggest mark. A year ago, he was selected as a first-team all-state utility player, which means he plays several positions. Arakawa starred in the outfield and on first base, batting over .400. On the mound, he was one of the most efficient pitchers in the state in leading the Raiders to the ILH title and eventually a fifth-place finish in the state tournament.

Clocked in the mid-80s with his fastball, Arakawa’s mental approach keeps opposing batters off balance. “I like to work the change and the curve,” he says. “My passion is to pitch.”

Longtime baseball observers will tell you that they appreciate pitchers rather than throwers. When Arakawa takes the hill, he is definitely a pitcher - commanding all aspects of the game, including his head.

When big-time colleges took notice of his talents, Arakawa thoughtfully came to the conclusion that he would stay at home. He committed this past summer to play for the University of Hawaii baseball program beginning next year.


“I grew up just a few minutes away and went to a lot of games growing up. It was the right thing to do,” he says.

Arakawa is sure to help the ‘Bows in so many ways - with his arm, his bat and his glove. But more than anything else, he’ll bring his thinking-man’s approach to Manoa.

“I’m looking forward to playing in front of my family and friends,” he says.

Hawaii fans are thinking they’re happy that one of the good ones will be staying and playing in the Islands.

That’s Jarrett Arakawa - always thinking it through.

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