Insight, News, and Opinion by Nick Abramo
  • April 13, 2021
Kapolei Inline Hockey Arenas Grads Are Off To College And New Horizons

Four Hawaii athletes ended their high school journeys at the top of their class — in hockey circles.

The four — Jaden Nahoi-Baricar, Kaena Humber, Austin Harder and Adam Harder — are recent high school graduates who are now in their freshman years of college.

At Kapolei Inline Hockey Arenas, they all pretty much made it through from the Mites (ages 10-and-under) to Midgets (16-and-under) and beyond (adult leagues). A KIHA-planned ceremony for them (along with a few other players who recently graduated) in the spring was called off due to COVID-19.

Nahoi-Baricar, Humber and the Harder twins also join the long list of youth hockey alumni who played a good number of years at the facility since its opening in 2010 and, for some of them, before that in outdoor leagues in Mililani and Hawaii Kai.

Maybe in the future, we’ll be honoring players graduating high school who played at the varsity level in hockey. Eh, but for now that is but a dream. A big push would need to come from high school administrators and the hockey community to make that happen. One thing, though, that there is little doubt of: the fact that here have been some top-notch, talented inline hockey players developed here since the early 1990s.

And now, on to the four.

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JADEN NAHOI-BARICAR

>> Age: 18

>> High school: Kapolei

>> College: Arizona State University

>> Major: Electrical systems engineering

>> Career goal: Electrical engineering

Jaden Nahoi-Baricar will be testing the waters in club hockey. (Photo courtesy of Julie Nahoi-Baricar).

Jaden Nahoi-Baricar, a forward, has been a leading scorer at every level all the way up the ladder. Within the last few years, he played and performed well enough to make it to the top level at KIHA — adult Division 1.

When sports resume after the health crisis, he’ll be playing for Arizona State’s club team.

“I was very nervous and didn’t think that I could keep up with some of the best players on the island,” he said about moving up to D-1. “But shortly enough, the division made me better and turned me into the player I am today.”

Nahoi-Baricar picked Arizona State because it has two inline hockey teams as well as the program of study he wanted.

“It could give me a chance on making it to the big leagues some day and help me evolve in the sport,” he added. “But of course, I would have to try out to see if I can compete. Although I have made some connections over my years of playing roller hockey in (mainland) tournaments, the competition on the West Coast is pretty competitive. Everyone knows each other because they have either played with or against each other, which makes it both fun to play and competitive when the games can get really tough. Sometimes you’ll hear some trash-talk coming from both ends inside and outside of the rink, which makes it fun to play and meet new people.”

Jaden Nahoi-Baricar looked to make a pass during a mainland tournament. (Photo courtesy of Julie Nahoi-Baricar).

In the future, Nahoi-Baricar wants to make it as far as he possibly can in inline hockey.

“And maybe become an inline hockey coach, who knows?” he added.

Another thing makes Nahoi-Baricar proud of his time at KIHA — silly celebration dances after he or a teammate scored a goal.

“It was more funny when we got the other team on it, too, and they decided to do silly celebrations,” Nahoi-Baricar said. “(Sometimes it got to the point where) every team’s main focus that day was to see who could pull off the most silly celebration.”

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AUSTIN HARDER

>> Age: 18

>> High school: Hanalani

>> College: University of Alaska Fairbanks

>> Major: Automotive technology and heavy diesel mechanics

>> Career goal: Mechanic shop owner

Depending on several factors, Austin Harder may eventually play hockey in college. (Photo courtesy of Brad Harder).

Austin Harder is a multi-sport athlete, having played baseball and basketball in high school.

A basketball injury he suffered — a torn ACL — has recently kept him out of hockey and the position that he has distinguished himself at — goaltender.

Harder also has experience at the KIHA D-I level and in high-pressure tournaments.

“My best moment is winning the gold (medal) in the AAU tournament against Canada,” he said.

College hockey is a possibility for the younger of the Harder twins, but only if the injury heals and if he can find the time to devote to it. School is No. 1 in his mind.

“I would love to play inline hockey for as long as possible, but I am out for a while because of the knee,” he said. “I am hoping to get back into it next year.”

Austin Harder, showing off some hardware when he was in the 12-and-under age group. (Photo from KIHAwaii.com).

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KAENA HUMBER

>> Age: 18

>> High school: Damien

>> College: University of Hawaii

>> Major: Business management with a minor in criminal justice

>> Career goal: FBI surveillance specialist

When not playing hockey the last four years, Kaena Humber was busy playing soccer for Damien Memorial High School. (Photo courtesy of Scott Humber).

Another goaltender, Kaena Humber showed that he could compete with the big guns at KIHA.

COVID-19 put a little bit of a wrench into his plans. He was going to attend Endicott College in Beverly, Mass. Instead, he will attend the University of Hawaii for a year before transferring to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst next year.

Humber played varsity soccer for four years at Damien and was a captain and left halfback as a senior.

His top moment at KIHA was being in the

nets for the D-I Sunday morning practices, and his funniest moment is “messing around with Jaden all the time.”

Humber was all set to play for Endicott’s inline team before making the decision to stay in Hawaii.

Kaena Humber shows nice form in going to the butterfly and making a blocker save. (Photo courtesy of Scott Humber).

“I plan to eventually play for UMass-Amherst’s D-2 program,” he said. “I got in contact with all the players at Endicott and they were super welcoming and very nice to me. I have not gotten to know the UMass coaches, but I will be reaching out to them soon.”

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ADAM HARDER

>> Age: 18

>> High school: Hanalani

>> College: Humboldt State University (Arcata, Calif.)

>> Major: Forestry

>> Career goal: Environmental water testing

During his four years of high school, Adam Harder was one of the top distance runners in the state in cross country and track and it earned him a college scholarship in both sports.

His biggest accomplishment was winning the state cross country championship as a junior.

“I plan to run four years in cross country and track at Humboldt State,” he said. “The program that has been built (by coach Jamie ) is extraordinary. The people are kind and will help each other out no matter what. HSU is surrounded by great people in a beautiful area.”

Adam Harder, above right, was at the front of the pack quite a bit in his high school distance running career. Below, he was all smiles after a victory as a youth player at KIHA. (Photos courtesy of Adam Harder).
 

Harder’s goal is to make the NCAA championships.

“I want to make my parents proud, make my team proud and all the people that supported me throughout my high school running years,” he added.

Like his brother Austin, Adam’s biggest hockey accomplishment was beating an undefeated Canada team for the gold medal at the AAU tournament.

In the future, he will probably lace up the skates to play hockey (at his customary forward position) for fun or to just shoot around.

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The other players who did not play hockey for a while but who came back to work at KIHA are Josh Eichner (home school graduate) and Adam Gooden (Kapolei). Gooden is also back in the sport, competing at the adult D-3 level.

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ALSO AT NICKABRAMO.COM: Incredible 2016 Hawaii Football Recruiting Crop Is Still Out There Making Waves

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Below is a partial list of high school graduates in recent years who played inline hockey in Hawaii from Mites to Midgets. (Note: Email Nick Abramo at nickabramo7@gmail.com if you know of a graduate who should be added to the list.)

RECENT KIHA youth alumni/high school graduates

>> Tyler Igarashi (Mililani)

>> Preston Suekawa (Mililani)

>> Allen Donathan

>> Ethan Matsuoka (Roosevelt)

>> Anthony Baron

>> Attila Gooden (Kapolei)

>> E.J. Abramo (Mililani)

>> Lance Hamilton (Roosevelt)

>> Travis Eichner (Home schooled)

>> Caleb Senn

>> Braden Betz (Mililani)

>> David Riccuobuono (Hanalani)

>> Ethan Oshiro (Kamehameha)

>> Thomas McNorton

>> Donovan Warren

>> Shaun Apiki (Damien)

>> Travis Kilcommons

>> Joseph Lyons (Saint Louis)

>> Kaz White

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Class of 2020

>> Adam Harder (Hanalani)

>> Austin Harder (Hanalani)

>> Jaden Nahoi-Baricar (Kapolei)

>> Kaena Humber (Damien)

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ALSO AT NICKABRAMO.COM: Io Keehu — from Mililani inline hockey to UNLV to the Honolulu Police Department

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