Speeding Toward Quick Success

Bobby Curran
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Friday - April 02, 2005
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Talk to any coach in just about any sport and ask what are the most essential elements for athletic success and you’ll likely hear speed and quickness. Games have become faster, and the ability to run well often separates the athletic haves and have-nots.

UH defensive back coach Rich Miano knows what it takes. A former walk-on, Miano became a two-time ALL-WAC performer as a Rainbow Warrior, then went on to an 11- year career in the NFL.

“Speed and quickness were always important, but never so much as now,” Miano says. “Look at the Ashley Lelies, the Chad Owenses, the Natasha Kais. What sets them apart? It’s the burst, and the change of direction.”

Even prior to coaching at UH, Miano was working with young athletes. He often found himself recommending Mainland speed camps, but air fare and tuition were often prohibitively expensive. And he was also bothered by the perception that Hawaii produced size but rarely speed.

“Why can’t we have really fast kids? We’ve got to give them the tools and the training, and start ’em young,” Miano opines.

In a nice piece of serendipity, former UH receiver Mel deLaura, who was hired as the strength and conditioning coach for UH football, had been working with kids who were high school age and younger in Oregon on speed and quickness techniques, and was also anxious to begin that work in Hawaii. The first efforts involved other people and companies, but the present incarnation has Miano and deLaura running a 501c (non profit) that is now the best value of any sports camp in Hawaii.

“There are a lot of good camps in Hawaii that are sportspecific,” says deLaura. “But we wanted this speed and quickness camp to teach techniques that could be used in all sports. And we wanted it to be as close to free as possible.” The present cost is $10 per session and includes a Jamba Juice certificate.

“Our sponsors have made it possible to keep the price down,” says Miano. “In addition to Jamba Juice, Nike and Antelope Valley Medical College have been awesome.”

Antelope Valley is owned by former Rainbow Warrior Marco Johnson and his wife.

And the results of the techniques taught at the camp are impressive. Mel deLaura has three children — Isaiah, 13, younger brother Noah, 10, and sister Makela, 8, who have been using the techniques for four years.

“You can’t believe Mel’s kids,” grins Miano. “They’re off the charts. Noah can stay with (UH football player) Kenny Patton on some drills, and Makela just runs away from kids three years older. Some of the things we teach, like rapid response which stresses movement and reaction, and dynamic stretching, which promotes hip flexibility, are state of the art,” says Miano proudly.

Even the casual observer can see the kids are having fun while they learn. Sessions are conducted on most weekend mornings from 8:30 to 10 for ages 7-11, and 10:30 -noon for 12 and older. UH athletes assist with the coaching and sometimes whole teams come to the camp.

“It’s growing all the time,” says deLaura. “We’re planning sessions for girls only in case they’re uncomfortable with the boys, and we’re adding a combine — a way for the kids to have a measuring stick.”

They’re also adding mentoring programs to educate youngsters about the avoidance of drugs tobacco and alcohol.

If you’d like to participate, go to www.hawaiispeedandquickness.com or call 739-5444.

“We’re going to form faster athletes and better people,” says Miano. “It’s about the whole person.”

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