Monday, October 3, 2011

News release: Hawaii public schools to offer surfing as an official sport

Abercrombie and friend (c) Ricky Li
HONOLULU – Hawaii public high school students will for the first time be able to compete in school sanctioned surf competitions as early as the spring of 2013, under a plan announced today by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, the Hawaii State Board and Department of Education and professional surfer Carissa Moore.

Working with the appointed Hawaii State Board of Education, the DOE is developing a plan to incorporate surfing in school athletics, with collaboration from city officials, surfing organizations and the community.

“Hawaii is the birthplace of surfing. From Duke Kahanamoku to the thousands of residents and visitors who surf both recreationally and competitively, the sport is rooted in our culture and way of life,” said Abercrombie. “Bringing surfing to our students is another step in our collective goal to transform public education and provide our children with rich and diverse educational opportunities.”

“Surfing will be an exciting addition for our students as we continue to expand and improve educational programs to increase student achievement,” Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said. “School sports teach critical life lessons such as team work and goal-setting while helping students stay active and healthy.”

The Hawaii State Board of Education in May 2004 approved surfing – the official individual sport of the state of Hawaii – as a high school sport. Despite overwhelming support from parents and students, funding and other challenges have kept surfing from becoming a fully-fledged school sport.

The BOE and the DOE are working on an implementation blueprint to make competitive school surfing a reality. The DOE intends to support the sport with outside funding sources and consult community partners and city officials to ensure that surf breaks are shared equitably and safely. The BOE will support implementation processes that address safety.

BOE member Keith Amemiya, a former executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, said surfing will allow students to learn about their environment and themselves. He said it also will engage the community by fostering relationships and partnerships with a new group of individuals and groups.

“Surfing is a unique sport that often attracts athletes that may not necessarily be interested in more traditional sports such as football, basketball, baseball, and soccer. Therefore, we're confident that surfing will increase athletics participation numbers,” Amemiya said. “In our view, the more students that engage in athletics and other after school activities, the higher our student achievement rates will become.”

Hawaii’s Carissa Moore, who this summer became the youngest surfer ever to win a professional surfing world title at age 18, joined Governor Abercrombie and education officials in celebrating today’s announcement.

"It will open doors for a lot of students," she said, explaining that surfing taught her important life skills such as to be perseverant, manage time, and be organized.

The BOE and DOE will continue to discuss a plan to implement surfing as a high school sport during the Board’s General Business Meeting tomorrow, Oct. 4, starting at 2:15 p.m. at the Queen Liliuokalani Building.