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FRO-Hawaii Basketball Academy helps children excel on and off the court: Forms new partnership with Waimea Athletics

Updated: 
September 8, 2017 - 6:00am

WAIMEA — Most children look forward to Saturday as a much-deserved break after a long week.

But on Oct. 29, the boys and girls who play for FRO Hawaii Basketball Academy will not just have a good Saturday, but a “Super Saturday,” the nonprofit organization’s fundraising tournament at Waimea District Park.

“That will be our first real fundraiser in Waimea. The concessions there will benefit our Hawaii programs,” said FRO-Hawaii Coordinator Daphne Honma, who works for the organization on a volunteer basis.

In the meantime, the nearly 60 children ages 9-18 will continue to strengthen their basketball skills practicing in “Cani Skillz Clinics” Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays each week at Waimea District Park. Most are led by Honma through a partnership formed with Waimea Athletics in February.

“Waimea Athletics help us pay gym fees and have started to get us equipment. We teach clinics for them,” she said. “They’ve always had trouble finding coaches since they do a lot of sports.”

Honma and Kiilani Spencer started free basketball clinics in Waimea and Paauilo last winter using Fro Hawaii’s emphasis on “setting the foundation of building basketball fundamentals, and impacting lives through basketball that teaches life lessons that extend beyond the court. That’s what I believe in,” Honma said.

She brings a wealth of experience to the young players after two stints as coach for the Honokaa Dragons girls’ basketball team, which she led to consecutive HHSAA Division II titles in 2014-15. She also helped start the UH-Hilo women’s basketball program as its first coach.

“FRO Hawaii provides basketball fundamentals to our keiki for the long run. We are grateful for the many basketball opportunities we can now offer for community youth,” Melissa Samura said, Waimea District Park’s recreation director.

Since the clinics began, Honma has seen much improvement in the players’ skills.

“They all enjoy the game and you can see that when they are with us,” Honma said. “One of my goals is that every player leaves us loving the game and wants to play basketball because they enjoy it. I also feel that if they are having fun, they will learn and retain more and would want to work on their skills on their own time. I am enjoying working with all of them.”

One of the tallest players in the rookie class is Lily Henderson, a seventh grader at Hawaii Preparatory Academy.

“Lily has improved this past week. She has been doing her homework and working on her skills at home,” Honma said. “We always ask them to use the drills that we teach on their own time to improve because we always want to build on what we have done.”

Another option for rising players ages 11-18 is FRO’s travel teams. The goal listed on their website is “to develop Hawaii’s finest athletes to compete in tournaments, camps and NCAA combines.”

“We take our travel teams around the island and to the mainland during the summer,” Honma said.

After playing nine seasons for WNBA, Linda Frohlich formed FRO Basketball Academy with her brother in Rancho Cucamonga, California, in 2013. The idea to expand FRO to Hawaii came from Dana Gambill, who was born and raised in Waimea and played with Frohlich on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas women’s basketball team from 1999-2001.

“When Linda shared her vision with me I was ecstatic to learn what she wanted to do, so it started from there,” Gambill said.

They then needed to find an ideal coach and coordinator on island.

“Dana and Linda approached me because they had this idea they wanted to start something in Hawaii,” Honma remembered. “It took me some time to figure out how to make this happen and eventually I decided our community needed something that could help develop basketball further with skills, love of the game, having fun and also having a competitive spirit. Through Dana and me they formed a relationship with Hawaii.”

Finding an ideal location was the next step.

“We got in touch with Melissa and the partnership started. We did a camp last summer that Linda and Dana both came for in June,” she said.

A Super Saturday fundraiser tournament will also be held at Papaikou Gym, just north of Hilo, Sept. 23. Players from Waimea will also participate.

Info: Visit http://frohawaii.weebly.com or call Daphne Honma at 937-3223 for further details on upcoming FRO-Hawaii Waimea clinics and Super Saturday tournaments

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