Pacific's revamped winter schedules set
TORII STATION, Okinawa – Don Hobbs gathered a pile of schedules, slipped them into a folder and added them to some binders to be taken home for study last Friday, after perhaps the most challenging two weeks he’s faced as DODDS Pacific athletics coordinator.
Three days later, the schedules – listing every basketball game and wrestling meet to be contested by DODDS schools in Okinawa, Korea and Japan – were approved by new DODDS Pacific director Linda L. Curtis, signaling the official start of winter season.
Cutting down to 16 basketball and eight wrestling events after teams were used to playing more – far more, in some cases, wasn’t easy, according to Hobbs, coaches and athletic directors. But budget realities dictated the reductions, Hobbs said. Two other considerations were addressed in the process: creating more level playing fields - nixing the ability of some teams to play two or three times as many games as others - and keeping students in the classroom more.
“Responses have largely been neutral to positive,” Hobbs said. “I think we’ll make the adjustment very quickly.”
It’s possible that some teams will actually play fewer games than they’re allowed, officials said. Because teams are limited to a maxiumum of two events each week, some might be unable to re-schedule events that are postponed for whatever reason earlier in the season if they don’t have openings in their schedules later on.
To help meet the reductions, DODDS has implemented a “DODDS first” approach to scheduling, Hobbs said. Games with fellow DODDS schools take priority, with the remainder of any schedule open to contests with international schools.
Such an approach is going to have a bigger impact on some programs than others.
Yokota is playing both a full DODDS Japan and Kanto Plain schedule, for instance. But Zama American’s and Nile C. Kinnick’s will not, as they have chosen to play other teams outside the Kanto league, which features several international schools.
“We know it’s going to take some creative thinking, thinking outside the box and making it fit into” the new limits, Pujol said. “Basketball is one sport that will be impacted.”
Japan district teams were able to comply by giving up the DODDS Japan tournament scheduled Feb. 6-8 at Yokota, as well as some games against Yokohama and St. Maur International, Pujol said.
Among those unhappy was Kinnick boys coach Robert Stovall, who said the reductions were done “without the kids in mind.”
“It will eventually lead to too much free time, teen-agers looking for things to do, idle hands and lessen our school spirit and pride in DODDS and our individual schools,” he said.
On Okinawa, Kubasaki and Kadena will be limited in the abilty to schedule games against local national squads, though they could continue to play in the Martin Luther King Invitational and the Okinawa-American Shootout in January depending on how many games against local-national teams are scheduled.
Korea’s basketball schedule was released before the reductions were announced, and several problems surfaced since.
Daegu AD Ken Walter is still looking for a suitable date to reschedule a game with Taejon Christian International. But blackout dates and the Lunar New Year holiday are preventing any redo at this point, Walter and TCIS AD Paul Rader said.
“It would have been nice to figure it out earlier in November,” said Rader, whose TCIS teams also lost two games with Humphreys, which didn’t have enough practices to begin its season.
Wrestling will also be impacted, with the “Beast of the Far East” tournament in January at Kinnick converted to a DODDS only dual-meet tournament and the “Rumble on the Rock” tournament in February at Kubasaki canceled altogether.
That leaves Kadena and Kubasaki with only each other to wrestle. “That’s what these kids live for, is those tournaments,” Kadena coach Fred King said. “It’s sad that we’re getting cut off at the knees.”