As parents, Paul and Lorena Soultz have been around the Waiakea air riflery program for seven years but never expected to be coaching the team.
Their eldest son, Tre Soultz, was the 2015 BIIF champion and their youngest, Skylar, was the league runner-up last year as a junior.
But when longtime coach Mel Kawahara stepped down after last season, there weren’t a lot of candidates to fill the spot.
Lorena Soultz volunteered for the job, and then she volunteered her husband Paul, too. Now, family dinners can double as strategy sessions.
“We’ve been around the program for seven years, starting with Tre. We should have paid more attention,” Lorena joked.
The new Waiakea coaches are in good hands because Kawahara is still a presence and a sounding board. Tre Soultz, who’s at the University of Nevada, is available on FaceTime.
The culture of give-back built by Kawahara lives on. Formers shooters Bradon Mikyake, the 2016 BIIF champion, Tyler Aburamen, and Devon Morimoto are assistants.
Asked what’s the best advice she got from Kawahara, Lorena Soultz had no answer for a good reason.
“I don’t know. I’ve asked so many questions,” she said.
“Any advice is the best,” Paul Soultz said. “There’s a lot to consume. At the beginning of the season, they always say, ‘Let the coaches coach.’ You don’t really pay attention.”
Well, it only appears that the Warriors, both boys and girls, have been running on autopilot. The girls have won every BIIF championship since the sport started in 1999; The Kamehameha boys captured the title last year; Waiakea won the rest.
Skylar followed Tre into air riflery. It’ll be a challenge to duplicate his brother with a BIIF title because Kamehameha senior Devel Aniol is the defending champ and cranking up the heat.
Through three matches, Soultz and Aniol are separated by one shot. Soultz is averaging 267.7 points (268, 275, 260) while Aniol is averaging 267.4 (266, 267, 269).
It’s likely to turn into another shootout between the two for the BIIF title.
Last year at the BIIF championships, Skylar trailed Aniol by five points after the prone, standing, and kneeling qualifying round.
In the final 10-shot standing position, Aniol pulled away and finished with 627.2 points, ahead of Skylar’s 613.9.
Over the summer, Skylar worked on his stand-up shooting. He also put his favorite quote, by Bruce Lee, to use: Be like water, my friend.
“When I miss, I’ll take a deep breath and that one quote helps me relax,” Skylar said.
Like Skylar, Tori Hironaga is a four-year veteran. She’s also a golfer and feels the two sports are built on the same foundation.
“The competition helps build mental strength,” she said. “We help each other out to get better.”
Hironaga, who started golfing at 9 years old, enjoys the closeness of the team, and it’s the same thing with air riflery under the new coaches.
“Everybody was friendly, and the upperclassmen helped me when I was a freshman,” she said. “It felt a little different at first when Uncle Mel stepped down. But we jumped right back into it. We trust Skylar’s parents. They’ve been here since we were freshmen, and it’s been fun.”
Like golf, the most important shot in air riflery is the one after a bad one.
“If you take a bad shot, you have to look past it and do better on the next one,” Hironaga said. “It’s like golf pretty much.”
She and the rest of the Warriors can always borrow Skylar’s favorite quote: Be like water, my friend.