Hyundai Tournament of Champions: Tournament helps teams, clubs from Lahainaluna

KAPALUA – For the last 14 years, clubs and teams from Lahainaluna High School have partnered with the PGA Tour to volunteer at the Tournament of Champions at the Kapalua Plantation Course.

It means about a month of long days, but the gains – financial and otherwise – are significant.

“For some of these groups this is their major funding source for the entire year,” said Jeff Rodgers, executive director for the Lahainaluna High School Foundation. “It helps them immensely and we really appreciate the tournament being here because it helps pay for travel expenses, uniforms and other expenses. We’re fundraising year-round and we get a lot of help in a short amount of time with the tournament.”

Rodgers said setup for the event began in December and will continue until Tuesday.

Lunas cheerleading coach Stacey Shibao said groups arrive as early as 6:30 a.m. and sometimes work until

7 p.m. Tasks for her team included distribution of ice and drinks for the players. She said the boys volleyball team transported golf carts and the baseball team conducted cart maintenance, but duties typically rotate.

Sophomore cheerleader Courtney Ruidas, volunteering at the tournament for the first time, said that waking up at 6 a.m. can be tough, but she enjoys being part of the event.

“If it wasn’t raining, it seems like it would be pretty fun,” Ruidas said. “Most of the day I was just sitting under the tent, but I like to come out and help.”

Junior cheerleader Karen Galuardo said this is her third time volunteering at the tournament, and that her father and brother ask her to get autographs from the players every year.

“They wanted me to get some from specific players, but they weren’t there,” Galuardo said. “It’s OK though, I got them a cooler.”

Additional volunteers included the tennis and boys basketball teams, as well as nonsports groups such as the boarders department, Health Occupation and Safety Association and Academy of Hospitality and Tourism.

Rodgers said the robotics and swim teams helped with the promotion, specifically brochures and posters.

He said the tournament distributed more than $28,000 last year to the 16 teams and clubs who volunteered.

Tournament director Nancy Cross said the foundation has long been a significant charity partner.

“They’re always willing to assist in any way that we ask them to,” Cross said. “We like to see it as a partnership and a wonderful opportunity for the high school students to see what it takes to put on an event it’s better than just writing a check.”

* Chris Sugidono is at