A big step up: Konawaena gets fully equipped weight room

  • The old weight room at Konawaena High School was described as "woefully inadequate". Courtesy Photo

  • Brand new weights are displayed at the dedication of the new Konawaena High School weight room on Tuesday. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Students, parents, coaches and community members gather for the dedication of the new Konawaena High School weight room on Tuesday.

  • Brand new dumbbells line the wall at the Konawaena High School weight room. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Tiger Hill, left, Paul Chinen and Shawn Suzuki at the dedication of Konawaena High School’s new weight room on Tuesday. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Coach Paul Chinen, left, speaks at the dedication of Konawaena High School’s new weight room on Tuesday. (Photos by Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

Students and athletes at Konawaena High School have a new room to build strong bodies as well as strong minds.

A new weight room opened at the school in October, but on Tuesday, the room was dedicated and blessed.

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Paul Chinen, a football coach at the school since 2007, said this is the first real weight room the school has had.

“We have so many world class athletes, but they never had a firm foundation in muscle structure,” he said.

As founder of Holoholo Ministries through Youth with a Mission, Chinen partnered with another YWAM ministry, Respect the Corners, where trainer Tiger Hill spearheaded the effort to raise the $40,000 needed to provide students with a fully equipped weight room.

Hill said seeing the previous, woefully inadequate room sparked the idea of how the ministry could serve the community and make it about the kids.

It took them only about two months to raise the funds needed to purchase the equipment needed.

About a third of the money raised came through the community, with the remaining two-thirds provided through Respect the Corners, a ministry dedicated to personal fitness.

“This fire that took place … I was the match, but Tiger was the gas,” said Chinen at the room’s dedication Tuesday. “It has been a real grassroots effort bringing the roots of aloha back to Konawaena.”

Besides student athletes, physical education teachers are utilizing the room, incorporating weight training in their curriculum.

“There’s always kids in here. Before, during and after school,” said Chinen.

Hill said the room gives the students a lot of pride.

“It gives them value. It shows them people believe in who they are,” said Hill.

Student Noah Bredeson participates in football, track and swimming. He called the new room beautiful and amazing.

“You’re not going to find something like this unless you go to a fitness place. I use it almost every day,” said Bredeson. “It’s a big step up from what we had.”

Chinen said the new weight room will allow the kids to get stronger and faster and provide more ways for them to become better athletes.

Chinen and Hill configured the room to maximize the square footage, creating the most efficient design to accommodate drop plates, free weights, dumbbells, barbells and multipurpose rigs to set up barbells and gymnastic bars. The room also boasts a new floor and fresh coat of paint.

In order to keep the kids safe, a coach or PE teacher must be present when students are utilizing the room.

Konawaena principal Shawn Suzuki said the new room is incredible.

“It started with coaches using a facility not equipped to serve the needs of the school,” said Suzuki.

“Before we knew it, we had someone coming in. They saw something they felt was important to the school and wanted to be part of it,” Suzuki said of Hill and Chinen. “How do you thank people like this who want to help the kinds? It’s kind of unreal.”

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Chinen expressed that the weight program shows the kids that they need to put in the work in order to get the results.

“I see our future leaders who know what hard work is,” said Chinen.

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