Taking Golf And Tennis To The Keiki

A new program takes golf and tennis instruction to schools as part of an innovative after-school program. Schools like it, and parents say the new focus helps their kids’ studies

Steve Murray
Wednesday - December 15, 2010
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Woytowich with Sean Furuta
Kayci Yang hits, Jason Agsalda coaches

to keep them engaged.”

The San Diego native came to Hawaii as a child with his family when his father got stationed at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, Kauai. The family didn’t stay long before moving on to Japan and then California, where Oliquiano graduated high school and college. Though he spent just four years in Hawaii, he knew the Islands would one day be his home.

“I enjoyed Hawaii life. The weekends were all about hanging out at the beach, firing up the barbecue in the garage and just hanging out with family. I decided when I had kids I would raise them in Hawaii, so in 1999 I moved to Hilo.” He remained on Hawaii’s wet side until 2004 when a promotion brought him to the Busy Island.

The lessons in either academy begin rather simply. Golf starts with the simple goal of making contact. As the students get more comfortable, they begin learning the basics of chipping and putting before moving on to taking full swings with the driver. Tennis students begin with basic skills like hitting and volleying. In later lessons, they learn to hit the backhand and then serve. Though the instruction is real, the focus isn’t on turning kids into budding stars.

It’s about having fun and getting exercise.

If interest remains, the students can sign up with a number of instructors on Oahu. As a way to make these introductions and to put their training to use, a clinic is held each winter and spring, where students get to practice and play on a real golf course.

The best part of tennis is playing air guitar: (from left) Rory Kilmer, Kayci Yang and Maya Mastick
Woytowich works with Adrian Abcede

“It’s really neat. For the past two years we’ve been at Waikele. We take them on a field trip. We take them out on the course to see what a real bunker looks like, to see a real green, and we practice the whole week on the course. We’ll practice on the green, on the driving range, and on the last day we go out and play as many holes as we can - up to nine holes. They learn to keep score, and at the end they get trophies and prizes.”

One of the fun things common during the lessons is kids helping kids. The instructors encourage this because it creates camaraderie and helps reinforce what they have learned.

“Some of the advanced kids in the class who have been to four or five sessions will start helping out the younger ones. So we’ll have the advanced students tell us what the new students are doing wrong and we’ll tell them how to fix it, and they become more of a tutor.”

Oliquiano says his grand plan is to create a nonprofit organization that will run a green-grass academy for both golf and tennis.

“I am hoping we can do this in five years. My goal is to teach kids who are economically disadvantaged and who may not have the opportunity to play golf or tennis.

“I want to offer scholarships to the academy and for kids who can’t afford to attend an after-school program so they can learn.”

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