Kai’olu DeFries and Hana Ito, seniors at Kamehameha and Maryknoll respectively and members of WYC Ikaika Waterman’s Program, distinguished themselves by each winning a Gold and a Bronze medal in August at the 2014 USA Canoe and Kayak National Sprint Championships held in Gainesville, GA. Kai’olu, a Bronze medalist in the K2 200m in 2013, and Hana teamed up this year in the K2 5000m to become the National Champions and Gold Medalists in the event! Both also snagged a Bronze in the K4 500m, along with teammate and Kaiser High senior Kelly Graf and a San Diego paddler. Both Kai’olu and Hana juggle many extracurricular activities and have excellent academic records and scholastic achievements to their credits. They are truly champions in the classroom, as well as on the water, and epitomize the term Student Athlete.
Kai’olu says, “Because of my training with WYC Ikaika this summer, I have been able to assess my progress and take the necessary steps to improve. Because of Nationals, I have accomplished more than I initially thought I could which will definitely aid me on my path to college. This past Nationals was probably the most fun I’ve had racing. Of course there were ups and downs with each race, but overall I felt that I had put it all out there and did my best to savor the moment. I’m grateful to those who have so graciously allowed me this experience of a lifetime, and I am thankful for each person that saw potential in me and went with it.”
Hana, who competed for the first time nationally, shared that “Going to Nationals was such an amazing opportunity. I still cannot believe that I was able to experience it. Kayaking has changed me so much. Not only the sport, but the people mean so much to me! I am so grateful for every single moment that I have with them on the water and on land, training or not. Thank you so much to all who have supported me.”
Hana further stated that she sees Coach Shelley, Director of WYC Ikaika Waterman’s Program, as “one of the strongest influences in my life, teaching me integrity, attentiveness and positivity.”
Coach Shelley, who has the highest regard for her young athletes, stated, “Everyday I’m so happy to be able to tell people, “Yes, I coach the WYC Ikaika Watermans program,” and “Yes, I get to work with great kids on the water everyday!” I really believe this program is a fantastic breeding ground for Champions, not only due to each individual’s athletic improvement, but also in their enhanced interpersonal skills to work together.”
“Kai’olu and Hana are both wonderful mentors and coaches for the next generation,” said Coach Shelley, “and I can not reiterate enough how fantastic it feels to be a part of this great new generation of Watermen and Women here in Hawaii.”
Coach Shelley Oates-Wilding at Shelley@WaikikiYachtClub.com