On and off the field, these Hawaii valedictorians are hitting it out of the park

When it comes to achievements, the Hilo high softball team is knocking it out of the park.
Published: May. 18, 2023 at 5:05 PM HST|Updated: May. 18, 2023 at 5:22 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hilo High School girls’ softball team won all but two of its games in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation. That was good enough to qualify the lady Vikings for this year’s state softball tournament.

“It was good to play against some of those teams and to see the level of sport that they were at,” senior outfielder Hopefelia Barclay said.

But this story isn’t about what they did on the field. It’s about what four of Hilo’s players accomplished in the classroom.

They embody what it means to be called a scholar athlete.

“They’re taking advanced placement classes, they’re taking college classes. So they’re really challenging themselves,” Principal Jasmine Urasaki said.

Barclay, pitcher Kuuipo Kalipi, catcher Kiana Agpalza and pinch runner Kaylee Yamada all made the National Honor Society. They are also school valedictorians, the highest honor a high school student can achieve.

“It gives me another group to be around where we share the same academic preferences or we’re able to study together and all that stuff,” Yamada said. “It’s really good to have that support system besides everything else that we’re doing.”

Besides softball, three of the four played multiple sports.

They were all involved in extra-curricular activities, and they all maintained a high grade-point average throughout their high school years.

Softball and sports served as their stress relief.

“You study and you get all your work done, and then you have another outlet where you can express all of your stress and your energy. It balances out,” Kalipi said.

“It takes everybody to develop these young ladies into who they are today. Their parents, their family, our community, our teachers, our staff, everybody. It’s a collaborative effort,” Urasaki said.

Kalipi is heading to Cal Poly Pomona to pursue a degree in sports psychology.

Yamada will attend the University of Puget Sound to major in physical therapy and play soccer and tennis.

Agpalza will start at UH Manoa in the Fall and major in elementary education. Barclay is going to Northern Arizona University to study environmental engineering.

“I think I’m going to miss being a part of the team, and the coaches because they teach a lot of valuable life lessons,” Barclay said.

There are two other seniors on Hilo’s softball team who also deserve a high five.

“We all get along,” Agpalza said. “It’s like having another family. I really like my team this year.”

Hilo High’s senior class has 28 valedictorians in all. It’s pretty cool that four of them were on the softball team.

There’s nothing soft about that.