As far as he can tell, local taro farmer Quinton Butts had never heard of a 9-year-old who received professional sponsorship from surf wear sponsors.
Never, that is, until his son Diesel was given a Volcom sponsorship, then a Basic Image sponsorship when the Hilo surfing prodigy was just 9, but that was four years ago and a lot has changed.
Diesel Butts has a knack for this, having been introduced to the sport years ago, and then, after 30 minutes, according to his father, Diesel was off on his own, doing his thing with a certain fair that has caught the eyes of judges as well as veteran surfers.
He wins trophies of one kind or another, it seems, in every competition he enters, most recently taking a runner-up spot that qualified him for a one-day contest next week in glorious Waco, Texas where a first-time experience awaits him — competing in a wave pool.
“It’s going to be different, for sure,” said Quinton, “he’s never been in one of those wave pools and he’ll be the only one competing whose never done it before.”
Butts qualified as one of 16 in the 13-and-under classification and will head out Saturday with his dad to find some practice time, which will make a dent in the family bank account.
“It’s expensive, at least for us,” Quinton said. “People are coming with experience in these pools from places like Texas, California, Nicaragua, really, all over.
“The pool is only open eight hours a day and it’s $100 an hour to get in it, so it’s not cheap.”
Quinton has been able to book two sessions on Sunday, then Monday is closed after another competitor booked the entire eight hours. Diesel will get two more hours on Tuesday, two more on Wednesday, and then the one-day competition consumes all of Thursday.
Finishing well could be great exposure and might draw the interest of sponsors or other competitions that may be looking for talented young surfers, especially since he’s the only entrant from Hilo.
“He’s kind of an outsider,” Quinton said. “Hilo doesn’t have a profile in this, (Hilo’s) not a place really associated with surfing by the (global surfing) community, so just being there actually says a lot.
“He’s going to represent Hilo and show them the best he’s got to give.”
Can’t ask for anything more than that.
In the calm before the storm in the annual high school baseball season, there are at least three local players who are preparing for their senior seasons, possible interest by the major league draft and four year colleges seeking fresh talent, with a newfound motivation.
Center fielder Kalai Rosario and first baseman Safea Mauai, both of Waiakea High School, and middle infielder Maui Ahuna of Hilo High, all spent the last week in an MLB Scouts League in Jupiter, Fla., where they competed in the Toronto Blue Jays spring training complex and had three games each in pool play, then followed their team’s seeding into bracket play, all of it coached by professional scouts.
The idea is not just to see if they know how to hit, field, throw and run, which will be available for anyone on hand to see each day, but more than that, it gave scouts a look behind the surface into what kind of players, and leaders, they may have.
Rosario, who accepted a scholarship to Division II California Baptist, caused the scouts to circle his name when hit a grand slam home run in one game.
“You’re there because they know you can play baseball,” said father Kapela Mauai, “but they want to see your character, how you handle defeat, what kind of attitude you have, whether you can pick up your teammates, show some leadership qualities.
“They get instructional tips, but after a week with these kids, the scouts have a pretty good feel for who they might be interested in going into their senior seasons.”
A coming-together opportunity
What does the triumphant Ironman finisher have in common with the neighborhood long distance runner who isn’t interested in swimming or riding bicycles?
Race director Bob Wedeman has an answer for both of them this weekend and next in Hilo when he stages the second of the three-leg 2019 BioAstin Train to the Big Island International Marathon Sunday morning, followed by next weekend’s Halloween 5K Fun Run at Liliuokalani Park.
First things first. The 20K run (there was a 10K run and there will be a 30K prior to the Hilo marathon in January), is Sunday, starting a 6:30 a.m. on the Bayfront, around the corner from Liliuokalani Park, same starting location for the marathon.
Each year, there are are a handful of runners who put off registration and then hit the panic button the day before the race, only to find the website closed. That happens because Wedeman needs to convert all the online entries into an available form before the start of the race, but not to worry, he will be on site at least 30 minutes before the start Sunday morning, signing up the late comers.
After completing the Ironman, a 20K ought to be tantamount to a fun run, but it remains a challenge for most longer distance types, it might be the longest run some have ever attempted, but that’s okay, walking a bit is permitted.
Last years 20K best time was posted by David Collier (1:26.45), the top female was Veronica Wedemann at (2:04:22). They are both running in this event.
Next week, it’s the Halloween 5k fun run in the park, followed by a contest that awards a prize for the best costume by a contestant and after all that, there will be trick or treat goodies for keiki.
On the links
UH-Hilo alum Nick Mason was among the Hawaii golfers who advanced to the second stage of the Korn Ferry Tour last month.
Mason finished 11th (69-64-74-71), good for 10-under at the first stage in Mobile, Ala.
Jared Sawada, a Mililani (Oahu) graduate, tied for fourth at the first stage qualifier in San Jacinto, Calif., with rounds of 70-66-68-68. Brent Grant (Moanalua, Oahu) earned a share of 11th with rounds of 71-70-69-67 at the same site. The second stage begins Oct. 29 and those who advance to the final stage, Dec. 12-15 in Florida, are assured a Korn Ferry Tour card.
At LPGA Qualifying Stage II on Thursday in Venice, Fla., Hilo’s Britney Yada failed to advance, shooting a 3-over 75 to finish 11-over.