Honokaa senior Sophia Cash will be remembered for being the first girls four-time BIIF cross-country champion, an achievement that separates her from a field of others.
But she put her foot in the sand and left an imprint in other ways. She jumped into the community with a helping hand and maintained a high grade-point average.
She’s an ideal candidate for the 17th annual Roy Fujimoto/KTA senior scholarship. She was inducted and is joined by Konawaena’s Nanea Wall, St. Joseph’s Mary Campbell, and Keaau’s Kierstyn Yamamoto.
The scholarship program is named after former BIIF executive director Roy Fujimoto and is sponsored by KTA Super Stores and the league.
The recipients, who each receive a $1,500 stipend, are chosen based on their athletic and academic achievement, as well as community service.
Cash also participated in swimming and track and field. She juggled a lot of activities in her spare time. She was a member of the Future Farmers of America Club, a National Honor Society member, Letterman’s Club, and Drama Club.
She volunteered her time at the Thelma Parker Memorial Library, Blue Zones booth, Waimea Athletic school, and North Hawaii Community Hospital.
Cash hit the books hard and has a 4.041 GPA and plans to attend Hawaii Pacific, where she’ll study biology.
Running helped her break out of her shell.
“Growing up I was always that independent, timid, and abnormal kid,” she said. “Running broke me out of that mindset. I’ve always remained humble because I know I can improve. This sport built me into a resilient person with grit. The unbreakable bonds I have with my teammates and the euphoria from competitions make me feel alive.”
Other honorees are:
• Konawaena’s Nanea Wall, a four-time BIIF first-team pick for soccer and a member of the BIIF championship team in 2019.
Wall also participated in track and cross country and held a 3.8 GPA. She signed to play soccer at UH-Hilo, where she will major in agriculture.
That fits in with her family’s lifestyle with the Wall Ranch, started by her great grandfather Allen Wall n 1941.
“Studying the wildlife here opens up so much more opportunities to work with local farmers, ranchers, and wildlife,” Wall said. “Picking Maile is one of the many traditions passed down to me. Through picking Maile and other cultural practices, I have embodied habits of treating people and places with respect. My inspiration comes from not only the aina but from the practices and mo’olelo of my family and those who came before me.”
She’s volunteered her time at the school craft fair, makahiki games with elementary kids, coached youth soccer and been involved in church youth groups.
“Nanea has a very kind heart. She has friends from many different groups on campus and was voted Homecoming Queen, which demonstrates the support she has from the entire campus,” counselor Allie Serina said. “She also is very brave in her willingness to meet new people. Last year, she decided to try softball on a whime and really clicked well with her net team.”
• St. Joseph’s Mary Campbell, a BIIF swimmer and finalist in the 200- and 500-meter freestyle, who has a 4.0 GPA and spent the rest of her time with civic-minded duties.
Campbell, who consistently swam at age-group state meets, was never a BIIF champion but understood that a champion is not always defined by a gold medal.
“I went from placing seventh at BIIFS (in the 200 free) during my freshman year to second in my senior year,” she said. “Even though I was never a BIIF champion, I am proud of how far I’ve come. I’m planning on swimming in college at Pacific Lutheran University.”
Campbell, who’ll major in political science, was the school’s student body president for two years, a volunteer at open houses and with the Hawaii Island Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and a Hilo Aquatic club member.
“I always strive to be an active participant pushing for a remedy. My desire to be involved has led me to pursue a career in government,” Campbell said. “I would like to be a local representative in Hawaii. High school sports have helped teach me how to be a leader and work with a group. Studying political science I expect to gain new skills that allow me to understand and work with more difficult and complex problems.”
• Keaau’s Kierstyn Yamamoto: a BIIF soccer player, who also competed in volleyball and track and field. She holds a 4.0 GPA and will major in nursing at California Baptist.
When Yamamoto wasn’t in a sport, she was the manager for others, including boys basketball and water polo. She was also the president and founder of the her school’s Letterman club, and a member of the Hawaii Soccer Club. She was also involved in community service activities.
She pointed out that soccer opened doors for her.
“It has created long-lasting friendships, transformed me into a leader, helped me succeed in the classroom, and most importantly it led me to my next journey in life,” she said. “Without my involvement in athletics, I would not be the person I am today. Athletics have been a great teacher to me and definitely made an impact in my life.
“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to continue my athletic career at California Baptists University to play DI soccer.”
Yamamoto recalled her favorite soccer memory from 2017 during her sophomore year. The Cougars faced Kealakehe for a sport in the BIIF postseason.
The Cougars were shooting for their first playoff berth. Through the season, Keaau was usually a few players short from a full team. But on the day of the game, the Cougars had 11 players and upset the Waveriders 4-2.
“We won that day and made it. We proved everyone wrong and that Keaau could do it,” she said. “It’s a memory to last forever.”
• 2003: Mikela Yarawamai (HPA), Bronson Ganir (Pahoa), Erica Chong (Hilo High) and Brad Lau (HPA).
• 2004: Susan Gleed (HPA), Matt Haasenritter (Hilo High), Kyle Teves (Kealakehe) and Kelsey Harrity (Konawaena).
• 2005: Jessica Hanato (Konawaena), Johanson Quist (Hilo High), Francesca Weems (Kealakehe) and Michael Kopra (HPA).
• 2006: Landon Kurata (Waiakea), Katrina Chong (Hilo High), Leon Peralto (Kamehameha) and Jackie Ganiron (Pahoa).
• 2007: Kela Fitzgerald (HPA), Kellie Kitaoka (Konawaena), Kimberly Kopra (HPA) and Keoni Ucker (Christian Liberty).
• 2008: Ryan Higa (Waiakea), Cecily Kimura (HPA), Preston Vierra (Honokaa) and Megan Wery (Kamehameha).
• 2009: Jake Shiraki (Honokaa), Noelani Vargas (HPA), Johnathan Viernes (Pahoa) and Sam Unger (Konawaena).
• 2010: Kaitlyn Chock (Waiakea), Sage Johnson (Honokaa), Tayler Wang (HPA) and Brandon Bautista (Kohala).
• 2011: Richard Handy Jr. (Keaau), Anuhea Wall (Konawaena), Tialana Greenwell (Honokaa) and Morgan Rapozo (Waiakea).
• 2012: Dawnyelle Awa (Konawaena), Jaclanne Pagala (Keaau), Chayce Moniz (Honokaa) and Megan Aina (Kamehameha).
• 2013: Zoe Sims (HPA), Marley Strand-Nicolaisen (Ka’u), Talon Ota (Keaau) and Ke Kula ‘O’ Ehunuikaimalino’s Kaua Ruedy (Konawaena).
• 2014: Evan Enriques (Kamehameha), Casey Poe (Kamehameha), Evyn Yamaguchi (Konawaena) and Charlie Belmes (Keaau).
• 2015: Kassie Kometani (Kohala), Zoe Leonard (Kamehameha), Kaiulani Ahuna (Kamehameha), Gabbie Ewing (HPA).
• 2016: Justin Perry (HPA), Chanelle Molina (Konawaena), Ihi Victor (Konawaena), Taiana Tolleson (Konawaena)
• 2017: Taylor Doherty (HPA), Chayna Ann Yoshida (Keaau), James Caudell (Kealakehe), Laukoa Santos (Kealakehe)