HONOLULU – The Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association will officially name its swimming and diving state championships after the late U.S. Rep. K. Mark Takai during a dedication ceremony at 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10.
The public is welcome to attend the event, which will be held at the Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Complex on the lower campus of the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. The program will start at 2 p.m., with the trials of the state swim meet to follow at 2:30.
Among those scheduled to attend the dedication are Gov. David Ige, UH President David Lassner and athletic director David Matlin, and State House Representatives Della Au Bellati, Aaron Johanson, Sylvia Luke, Scott Nishimoto and Scott Saiki, as well as members of the Takai family.
Takai was a four-time high school swimming state champion, two-time National High School All-American in the 100-yard breaststroke, and a 1985 inductee into the prestigious Hawai‘i High School Hall of Honor. He also was student body president at Pearl City High School, and editor-in-chief of the school newspaper.
“Mark is a perfect example of what the HHSAA hopes its student-athletes go on to achieve through lessons learned in education-based athletics,” said HHSAA Executive Director Chris Chun. “When I first took this job, Mark made time to personally reach out and mentor me. He always made time for the HHSAA even as his leadership roles and time demands increased. I am forever indebted to Mark for his graciousness and genuine care for Hawaii high school athletics.”
Takai continued his exemplary career as a student-athlete at the University of Hawai‘i, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a masters degree in Public Health. He also competed on the Rainbows’ swimming and diving team, and served as editor-in-chief of Ka Leo O Hawai‘i and president of the Associated Students of the University of Hawai‘i.
Takai was elected to the Hawai‘i State House of Representatives in 1994, serving the Pearl City and ‘Aiea communities in that capacity for 20 years. He also served in the Hawai‘i Army National Guard for over 15 years, including a one-year deployment to the Middle East as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and earned the rank of Lt. Colonel as well as president of the Hawai‘i National Guard Association.
“Honoring Mark in this way will help to keep his name, spirit and legacy alive in those of us who worked alongside him and got to know him as a friend, as well as those who admired him from afar,” said HHSAA dedication committee member Wes Nakama. “It will also help future student-athletes learn about and appreciate Mark’s many great achievements and contributions as a scholar-athlete and campus/community leader.”
In 2014, Takai was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and quickly established himself as a well-respected, up-and-coming Congressman. Despite being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and undergoing surgery in late 2015, he continued to serve faithfully and courageously until his passing on July 20, 2016. He was 49.
About the HHSAA
Founded in 1956, the Hawaii High School Athletic Association is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) educational athletic organization exclusively dedicated to serving 96 public and independent member high schools statewide, as they work cooperatively to support and promote athletics as part of the high school education program. As the umbrella organization of high school athletics, the HHSAA operates 44 state championships in 18 different sports, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, in addition to providing professional development opportunities for coaches and athletic administrators. For more information on the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, go to www.sportshigh.com