Golden Hawks honored for work in community

The connection that the community of Nanakuli feels to its football team is, without a doubt, a special one.

The Golden Hawks are doing their part to make sure it's a mutual feeling.

Through various volunteer efforts in and around their community year-round, the program — under coach and alum Keala Watson and staff — seeks to instill an attitude of gratitude and humility in its student-athletes.

The team was selected as one of two winners of the Life matters Award, which spotlights high school teams that have made a difference in the life of an organization or individual.

Keala Watson, who served as the Golden Hawks' coach for four seasons years until temporarily stepping down this offseason, along with his brother and assistant coach Kili Watson and players Nainoa Banks and Isaac Pascua represented the group at the ScoringLive Distinguished Athlete Awards Dinner on May 21. They received a $1,000 check from HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union Senior Vice President of Marketing and Community Outreach Scott Kaulukukui that will go toward the Nanakuli athletic department.

"It's nice to be recognized. It's definitely not just about winning games, but trying to get our kids to grow up, take responsibility and learn how to give back," Watson said. "They may not know it and they may not appreciate it, but they get a lot as far as opportunities and help and attention, so they are really fortunate and what we're trying to teach them is to give something back."

The team participated in numerous beach and road clean-ups, sign-waving along Farrington Highway to promote safe driving awareness, a campus beautification project at Nanakuli Elementary, and even tidying up the community cemetery.

"Our community always helps us a lot and because they help us, we want to help and give back as much as we could," Banks said. "It was definitely worth doing all this for the community. Everybody tells us ‘thank you' after and everybody in our community is family-oriented, so we're all together as one."

Watson and staff promote servant leadership, which has grown to become a prominent pillar in the Nanakuli football program.

That was evident with the group's participation in the Walking Stick Project, where they worked alongside the State's Department of Land and Natural Resources' Division of Forestry and Wildlife to remove invasive plants such as the Strawberry-Guava tree. The trees were then turned into walking sticks, which were then distributed by players to family and community members in need.

"All of our grandparents and a lot of the older people in the area, we ended up giving them walking sticks. There are a lot of needy people and neighbors that need help getting around, so it helped them out a lot," Banks said.

While the Golden Hawks struggled through an 0-8 season after moving up to Division I the previous year, their off-the-field efforts helped put the losses into perspective.

"It definitely gave us a boost because we helped the community out and they came and supported us as much as they could on their free time," Banks said.

Watson, a Nanakuli alumnus who went on to play collegiately at the University of Hawaii, said he continues to see positive changes in his community as a result of their altruistic work.

"Over the years the message has definitely gotten through," Watson said. "We've got guys that graduated three, four years ago that still come and give back. They call me and ask if they can participate in our community service projects. I love that and it's a great way to try and change the culture and establish something new: a tradition of service and giving back to the community."

Since 2013, HawaiiUSA FCU and ScoringLive have teamed up to present the Life matters Award. For more information, visit

Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].



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