On Monday afternoon, Sept. 18, a team parent confronted head football coach Arnold Martinez in a dispute which would have far-reaching consequences for the entire student body and community. “The incident that happened was so volatile, and it was scary, and as your principal, I didn’t feel that I could control it,” Principal Justin Mew said. The administration called the police to resolve the issue, but felt that changes needed to be made for the sake of the safety of the football team.
Meetings were held on Tuesday with the football players and faculty to announce the cancellation of the school’s 2017 football season, which included the forfeiture of this week’s homecoming game against Moanalua High School. “We didn’t get to play much – only one game really. We were shocked,” said senior varsity football player Joaquin Tafao. “It’s really hard not to play especially since this week was going to be our last game.” Students around school were also saddened by the news and wondered what would become of homecoming week without its culminating event. “I was disappointed because this was the first time I was going to go to a football game,” said senior Kellen Chevalier. “I was really looking forward to seeing the game with my friends.”
In light of the forfeiture of the homecoming game and cancellation of Kaiser’s football season, students, teachers, and parents pulled together to support football players, band members, and cheerleaders. Despite setbacks from the past few days, Kaiser students haven’t thrown in the towel yet. They know that the show must go on and are willing to help the football team, cheerleaders, and band in their time of need. Every morning, students and parents lined the driveway in front of Kaiser, holding signs that read motivational lines such as “Cougars United!”, “Cougar Pride”, and “Go Cougars!”. Others passed out refreshments while the band played and the cheerleaders cheered.
On Wednesday, Sept. 20, student body officers met with Principal Mew, vice principals, and Athletic Director Nelson Chee to discuss replacing the homecoming game. As a result, the football team was able to play a scrimmage between the JV and varsity during lunch on Friday. “Everyone was given the opportunity to pitch in and deliver something for the other students. Everyone was allowed to be a part of it,” said senior leadership adviser Paul Balazs. “That really did match right in line with the homecoming style – which is celebrating what it means to be a Cougar.”
At the end of the week, the school rallied behind its football team during the assembly. Students sang the alma mater along with the players to conclude homecoming. “I believe the idea of homecoming was redefined,” said Mew. “Usually the principal addresses to the school at Homecoming Assembly, “Homecoming is….” But I believe now the answer came from the students. This is what homecoming is about.”