‘To the Swift goes the Victory’

Founded by two UH coaches, the Hawaii Speed and Quickness Clinic aims to help young athletes make the move to the ‘next level’ whether it’s Little League or college

Wednesday - March 01, 2006
By Lisa Asato
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Leg lifts are part of strengthening the body’s core
Leg lifts are part of strengthening the
body’s core

They are in Klum Gym on a Saturday, this group of teens and young adults, to run faster.

“If you want to run faster,” says Rich Miano, co-founder of the Hawaii Speed and Quickness Clinic, “you have to jump higher.”

For 90 minutes, students from middle school to college age are instructed to run, touch the floor, turn around, jump, sprint, spring to their feet and much more.

“It’s all short bursts,” says clinic co-founder Mel deLaura, explaining the participants’ability to handle the nonstop pace. “It’s just like basketball.”

For three weekends a month, deLaura and Miano teach athletes how to improve their game, regardless of sport.

DeLaura, strength and conditioning coach for University of Hawaii football and men’s volleyball, says: “What we do doesn’t necessarily make you a better football player; it just makes you a better athlete. We do it for all sports - girls and boys.”

Chelsey Kamai of Sacred Hearts runs a sprint
Chelsey Kamai of Sacred Hearts
runs a sprint

Clinics, which are usually held at UH’s Klum Gym, focus on speed and agility on Saturdays, and strength and explosiveness on Sundays. The kids’clinic, for those 7 to 12 years old, starts at 8:30 a.m. It’s followed by a 10:30 clinic for those age 13 and older. Registration starts 30 minutes before each clinic, which are scheduled for every weekend from now through March 18 and 19. They will also be offered April 1 and 2, 22 and 23, and 29 and 30.

Each clinic costs $10, and scholarships are available. The coaches credit corporate sponsors like Jamba Juice, Subway and Schuler Homes for keeping the cost of the program down. But for 9-year-old tennis player Kehaulani Likio of Kahuku, the sponsorship boils down to one thing. Asked why she likes the clinic, she says: “because you get a good workout, and afterward they give you free Jamba Juice certificates.”

On Saturday the students, numbering about 75 per clinic, were reminded en masse at one time or another to keep their “eyes straight ahead,” “pump those arms” and “bounce off your feet.”

Miano, a former NFL player and now UH defensive backs coach, says the difference in sports from high school to college to pros “is the quickness in athletes.” And that’s something that can be taught. Using soccer as an example, he says, coaches can teach you “how to dribble a soccer ball better, but they don’t spend a whole lot of time on how to become faster, stronger, quicker, which is essential - the most important element to go to the next level.”

That’s where the clinic comes in.

“The first thing we do is teach them a little discipline,” deLaura says. “How to be coached when they’re young, placement of their arms, where their heads are supposed to be when they’re running, how to make left turns, how to make right turns.”

Stressing the idea of “explosiveness,” deLaura reminds the younger group, “The higher you can jump the faster you can run.”

The kids turn their attention to guest coach and NFL player Chad Owens, who demonstrates the right way to squat jump. From a standing position, he bends his knees, jumps straight up for two feet, lands bending his knees then straightens again. “Up!” the kids shout as they follow suit. They try twice more: “Up! Up!”

The session ends with ladder drills for footwork. It’s 16-year-old Jasmine Saquilon’s favorite part of the day. Her feet move like rapid fire through the rungs laid on the floor while her gaze is fixed straight ahead. After attending about five clinics now, Saquilon, who plays three high school sports for Word of Life Academy and Pac-5, says the drills have gotten easier, but she’s challenging herself by trying to emulate others who “I see are better than me so I can get to their level.”

Rich Miano offers instructions for running a drill
Rich Miano offers instructions for running a drill

Isaac Iuta, 17, a McKinley High School strong safety, came to his first clinic Saturday to “get a sneak peek at what training is in college.” Iuta, who says he hopes to earn a football scholarship to the University of Southern California, found the ladder drills to be pretty tough. At this clinic, he says, you become aware of the skills you need to improve.

Since it started five years ago, Hawaii Speed and Quickness has grown from three clinics to 84 this year at Manoa. In that time it has added to its roster an after-school program at six high schools on Oahu, Kauai and Maui, where, at four of those schools anyway, students can earn a half-credit in a class that combines one hour of speed and quickness training with one hour of curriculum covering drug prevention, alcohol awareness, tutoring and mentoring. Sports clinics, funded by the counties through various grants, are offered on Kauai and Big Island, with plans for expansion to Maui.

Parent Alfred Souza III says the clinic’s appeal is heightened by the high-profile coaches and guest coaches such as Owens and UH volleyball standout Victoria Prince. He likes the coaches’ easy rapport with the kids, and the knowledge they pass on.

“Their techniques are some things that people have never seen before,” says Souza, whose 8- and 9-year-old sons, baseball players both, have attended some 20 clinics.

“I mean, I was pretty quick in my day - if I had this, who knows where I’d be?”

For more information, visit hawaiispeedandquickness.com

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