Helping Young Athletes To ‘Get It’

Bob Hogue
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Wednesday - April 15, 2009
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Parents often complain that their teenagers “don’t get it” - that they don’t get the fact that there is life beyond the next game or activity, beyond high school or college. “Beyond” is the key word here.

Parents always tell me that they want their youngsters to be prepared for the world “beyond” -meaning college, career, budgeting and making ends meet, community and leadership opportunities, and so much more.

“Using your athletic ability and preparing for that future can take you beyond,” says Asai Gilman, assistant dean of admissions at BYU-Hawaii and the executive director of Education 1st Hawaii, which runs Game Plan Academy.

I’ve written in this column before about the future educational and college planning opportunities provided by Education 1st and Game Plan Academy. The deadline for summer registration is May 29. You can visit their website at or call them at 293-7700 to find out more.


But the most exciting news is that they’re taking their message to television. Beginning this month on OC-16 - with the first show to debut Sunday, April 19 at 8 p.m. and replayed several times thereafter - Education 1st will broadcast a half-hour show called GPA-Play it Smart!

The first show, hosted by Jack Damuni and Mika Valai with Gilman as the executive producer, will feature profiles on All-American high school football star Manti Te’o, all-PacWest basketball star Trenson Akana and Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann.

“The TV series was started to help families get their young student-athletes prepared for the future by seeing and hearing from key personalities who have made major contributions through their presence in the world of athletics,” Gilman says. “We’re hoping to inspire, motivate and encourage families. We think these stories are inspirational because they show firsthand the idea of ‘giving back.’”

The shows production crew met up with Te’o on the Punahou campus, followed Akana around BYU-Hawaii, and toured the offices of the mayor to meet with Hannemann. All three feature stories will showcase video footage of current and former athletes in action.

“This type of show will be a reminder that you can rise to the top in everything you do,” says Gilman. “We think it’s really going to inspire people.”

One of the key moments in the first show comes from Mayor Hannemann, he says. “Mufi really talks about how athletics helped him and how it helps young people grow. He says that student-athletes make great leaders in the community because of time-management skills, being focused, learning teamwork and dreaming big. That’s the common bond that all student-athletes share and that really comes across in these profiles.”

Future episodes will potentially showcase other community leaders who were former athletes, including Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands director Micah Kane, City Councilman Todd Apo, and volleyball coach Tita Ahuna.

“We have a committee to set up future stories focusing on career, high school,and college. Our goal is to have a new show every other month,” Gilman says. He says future students in the academy also may be featured.

In the meantime, families and student-athletes can learn from the personal stories of Te’o, Akana and Hannemann. Te’o, as profiled in a MidWeek cover story recently, is an Eagle Scout who led Punahou to state titles in football and basketball, and recently announced that he will be attending Notre Dame. Molokai native Akana is a student-leader and excellent student, as well as an all-star guard on the PacWest champion BYU-Hawaii Seasiders.

The mayor, of course, was an all-state basketball player at Iolani who matriculated to Harvard before starting his long career in politics. Hannemann has continued to be a strong advocate of sports through his work with the Mufi Hannemann Girls Basketball Jamboree and in helping coach Team Aloha.

Through the production process, Gilman says he has learned a great deal himself. “You get a chance to see for yourself that the skills acquired on the athletic field are directly transferable to your career and what goes on beyond,” he says. “Some young athletes still don’t see ‘beyond.’”

Perhaps GPA-Play it Smart! will help tune them in and turn them on.

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