Kanani Araki didn’t get the shot to chase another BIIF air riflery championship, but she got one last parting gift from the sport that connected her to her dad, Tad, who’s a shooter himself as a hunter.
The Kamehameha graduate was one of 12 inducted into the HHSAA Hall of Honor in a historic class, which included the first cheerleader in Sacred Hearts Academy’s Cayla Cabanban.
“I was overjoyed. I couldn’t believe it,” Araki said. “They only pick 12 and 56 applied, so I’m thankful and grateful to be one of 12 chosen this year.”
Each student-athlete receives a $2,000 college scholarship from Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
Araki was the 2018 BIIF champion and finished seventh as a sophomore and fourth as a junior at the state tournament.
The pandemic wiped out the BIIF season and state tournament, but Kamehameha provided an opportunity for the team to shoot, a bright spot after months of isolation.
“I’m grateful our school allowed us to get back a little. It felt good to be back with teammates,” Araki said. “This year we finished up the school year with some positiveness.”
She also previously participated in BIIF swimming and track and field, but air riflery and swimming were held at the same time this season.
Araki will attend Grand Canyon in Phoenix, where she’ll major in psychology and hopes to become a school counselor. She got a chance to visit the campus in February. She hasn’t found a club team at Grand Canyon.
Araki has family in Arizona and nearby Las Vegas, so she has somewhere to go for a home-cooked meal.
Like many sports fans, she has noticed how mental health has become a big part of the sports world, particularly with Naomi Osaka pulling out of the French Open, which threatened to fine her for missing mandatory media interviews.
“It’s sort of gotten to the forefront in the past couple of years,” Araki said. “I look upon myself to take care mentally. Not just myself, but my friends and classmates, too, I tell them to take care of themselves mentally as well.”
Araki noted that Kamehameha provided good support when students had to quarantine and Zoom meeting became the most popular thing. The school counselors were available and positive quotes were emailed to students.
Her BIIF air riflery days are over. She’ll follow a school tradition and pass her gun down to her old coach Tracy Aruga, who’s now living on Oahu. Araki’s gun was also passed down to her.
It’s through shooting that father and daughter found a connection. Her dad’s a hunter and urged her to try out in eighth grade. The sport stuck and they found something to do at the shooting range.
Araki has never gone hunting but does have her hunting license. Instead, they’ll shoot clays discs at the shooting range or paper targets.
Shooting will also be a good memory for her whether it’s shooting at targets with her dad or remembering that she was the only BIIF athlete in 2021 to be inducted into the HHSAA Hall of Honor.
“He’s a lot better than I am,” she said. “He really encourages me and tells me his secrets. It’s different between a regular rifle and an air rifle. It’s really fun, and I enjoy it.”