The Scene: Pacific Gymnastics Club ready to mold, especially serious competitors

Next time you attend a high school game, take a moment to watch the cheerleaders and see if, apart from jumping up and down, they have some actual athletic talent.

If so, there’s a chance that cheerleading is the practice they fell to after learning how to be an athlete.

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On this side of the Big Island, there’s a good chance that if they have perfected the moves, the leaps, the handstands and flips and all the rest, they may have started it all at in gymnastics.

The Hilo Gymnastics club, started in 1995 by Bev and Stanley Oka, went dark for a while after Candi Mullins graduated high school and headed for Creighton University where they had a physical education department that leaned in to coaching various disciplines, including gymnastics.

Mullins, a St. Joseph High School student at the time, had taken lessons from the Oka’s while working her way through school at Uncle Billy’s, whose owner happened to be her husband’s father. That helped her get to college, then she worked and had kids when she got back.

“My two daughters wanted to do gymnastics,” Mullins said, “so I started a club.”

These days, Mullins has as many as 150 young ones coming through her Pacific Gymnastics Club, but most of them are just there for fun. At the moment, 14 are at early stages of competition under a good coach. Mullins’ coaching led both of her daughters to college scholarships, one to the University of Alaska-Anchorage, the other attended Cal-State Fullerton. They each attained level 10 status, the highest level in international competition.

But there’s a reason we don’t hear more about competitions.

“I can get them to a good level and then, all of a sudden, they decide to go to cheerleading,” she said. “That’s OK, I understand, cheerleading is a social thing, it’s fun, you’re a team member, but you can’t be doing all that if you are serious about competition.

“If you’re going to compete, you’ll be in the gym everyday,” she said. “Getting up to the next level is really hard, it’s not just a matter of showing up, it’s real work.”

But those are well-conditioned athletes doing those cheers. For more information, check Pacific Gymnastics’ Facebook page.

Boxed Out: Never mind The Tale of Two Cities, the classic book which famously suggested it was, “the best of times, the worst of times.” It’s not like that for boxing on the Big Island.

These might be the worst of times, and they’re certainly are nothing liike the best.

“We need to revise the environment, and I’m not sure how to do that,” said Mike Aina, of his Yeshua Boxing Club. “We’ve talked about it, we’ve seen it coming and here in the last year, things have been tough.”

He was referring to the rise of MMA, other cage fighting sports and the continuation of Tough Man bouts that have gathered media attention and, in the process, taken away interest from the sport of boxing.

The last boxing event on the Big Island was last summer and there is nothing out there on the horizon. Aina has trouble finding time to work with young boxers because of job constraints, but at the same time, he doesn’t have enough qualified instructors to help him with the young boxers who do show up.

He doesn’t need more youthful pugilists, he needs coaches.

“This has been the trend,” Aina said, “more attention on (MMA and others), and less on boxing. It makes it worse when I have time to train, and a new kid comes in, so you have to spend the time to work with him on the basics, and that’s time consuming because you have to get it down right.

“That means, while I’m doing that, I have to leave all the others to a couple volunteer coaches I have. It’s a big challenge.”

Aina has anywhere from 20 to 30 prospective boxers who will show up, so he doesn’t need more of them, he needs more competent instructors. If there are knowledgable boxing instructors out there looking to stay in the game, call Aina at 825-1169.

Funding source: They tried, but the link for people to donate to the fund set up to honor Lindsey Poulsen, the former Vulcans’ women’s soccer player who passed away last year with complications from medication that was treating her cancer, was fumbled.

The recent announcement and goals were sent to a link the school misidentified, causing an annoying re-start.

Organized by her parents and former coach Marc Miranda, the goal of the fund is to raise $250,000, out of which the interest can fund annual women’s soccer scholarships. In time, they think they can offer more than one a year, and that extra funding could be the way UHH women’s soccer gets to compete at a higher level.

The bad link has been fixed. Restart your engines, refocus your goals. Here’s the good link:

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https://giving.uhfoundation.org/funds/20913903

Know a sport or individual on the Hilo side who more people should know about? Let Bart know at barttribuneherald@gmail.com

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