Football Camp a ‘Huge Success’
Ry Akana and his ‘ohana have deep roots on Molokai and earlier this month they were able to give back to their community. Akana Athletics, along with Molokai Football and Farmer Head Coach Mike Kahale, held a one-day football skills camp on July 8 at the Molokai High School field. More than 100 Molokai youth were able to attend and learn from Akana and his staff at a free football skills clinic right here on The Friendly Isle.
Akana is the president and founder of Akana Athletics, LLC. A Molokai High Class of ’81 alum, he has lived in the Pacific Northwest for the past 25 years, where he is Head Football Coach at Sammamish High School in Washington State. He also works as a quarterbacks coach at the Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks QB) Passing Academy Camp, USA Footballs’ U.S. National Team Regional Camp, and the Football University Regional Skills Camp in Seattle.
“I thought it was huge success and we had close to 100 kids who were eager to learn and get better,” said Akana of the Molokai camp. “This first camp, hopefully of many more to come, has been in the works for a few years now. I reached out to Coach Kahale to talk about the possibilities of bringing a football camp to Molokai, to help generate interest at a young level. I felt it would also help to shorten the learning curve of developing football fundamental skills prior to entering high school. I also understand that our Molokai kids really can’t afford to attend the large, quality football camps on the mainland. So, me and my brothers decided to bring it to Molokai.”
Akana Athletics is a sports development coop aimed to help individuals build a best sports version of themselves. Akana started the company with his brothers to take advantage of the wide range of sports knowledge and coaching skills that they possessed collectively. They focus on basketball and football primarily but plan to venture into volleyball as well.
The four-time MIL eight-man champion Football Farmers under Kahale are starting practices for their upcoming season and providing a clinic right here on Molokai is a huge advantage for our student athletes.
“We had youth in ages ranging from 9-17 who participated in football drills to help improve position specific skills, improve blocking, and reinforce safe tackling,” said Kahale. “Even the mothers of our athletes had an opportunity to listen in and learn how the game of football has evolved and how changes have been made to improve safety and reduce injury. Several of them also participated in some of the tackling drills. Everyone had a good time and learned a lot.”
Akana and his staff want young players to learn to tackle the right way to ensure safety.
“What we wanted to really touch on at our skills camp this year was safety in football,” explained Akana. “With football coming under attack because of rising concussion and head injuries over the last 12 years, I wanted to teach a clinic on tackling safely. I invited the mothers of players to come on the field and listen, participate, and see how you can reduce the chances of head trauma, by learning a few simple techniques in tackling.”
Akana teaches a method called HUFS Tackle, which stands for for “Heads Up Front Shoulder.” Utilizing these safe measures and practices has seen a reduction of head injuries over the last eight years, he said.
Akana Athletics wants to continue to hold free clinics for the youth of Molokai.
“Our vision is to do an annual camp, and build it better each year,” he said. “Next year we hope to get retired NFL players Kimo Von Oelhoffen and Chris Naeole to help coach at our camp. We will also look to bring current NFL players and coaches to be a part of our coaching staff, and make the Molokai camp, ‘the’ camp to be at in the state of Hawaii!”
While Akana wants to keep the camp free for Molokai players, opening it up to off-island youth in the future would allow Akana to help give back to Molokai Football by donating a portion of the camp proceeds to the program.
“We would like to send out a huge mahalo out to Ry Akana and Akana Athletics for hosting the event,” said Kahale. “The coaching and teaching at the camp were top notch and we are really appreciated them giving back and sharing with the community.”
Find out more about Akana Athletics at akanaathletics.yolasite.com.