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Lawson Looks for Swell Time : Chaminade Coach Plans to Augment Football by Testing Hawaii's Surf


Five trips to Hawaii have honed Rich Lawson's surfing skills.

One trip to Hawaii has done little for the fortunes of Lawson and his Chaminade High football team.

What to expect this time--other than some wave-riding by Lawson--as the Eagles prepare for a Sept. 4 nonleague opener against St. Anthony of Maui?

"I don't have a whole lot of background on their team," said Lawson, entering his seventh season as Chaminade coach. "And I don't know how much emphasis they put on their summer program. But I know they have some comparable kids."

St. Anthony, a co-ed Catholic school with approximately 400 students, finished 1-6 last season and lost last week's opener to Kona Waena, 33-6. The program is in a rebuilding phase, according to second-year Coach Charlie Ane, and has few players with exceptional skills.

Three years ago, Chaminade traveled to the island of Hawaii and emerged with a 6-6 tie against Kona Waena. Chaminade, 8-3 last season, might be looking at an easy victory.

Said Lawson: "I don't think they're the power of Hawaii football."

Lawson, 38, who made his first trip to the islands in 1979, has made no secret of his love of surfing over the years. Often he rises before dawn at his home in Agoura, loads his surfboard into a 1974 Volkswagen station wagon and heads for the shore before morning practice.

"He told me he wanted to do some surfing," Ane said. "I don't blame him."

Said Lawson: "The ocean has always been a big part of my life. It's a chance to escape and re-energize myself."

Because of the trip, Chaminade was granted permission by the Southern Section office to begin practice last week, four days before other section teams. The Eagles will arrive on Maui next Thursday and stay until Sunday evening. The game will be played Saturday in Wailuku. A luau is scheduled for Saturday night for coaches, players and families of both teams.

Chaminade players will stay with the families of St. Anthony players, attend school at St. Anthony on Friday and attend Mass with their hosts on Sunday.

St. Anthony, like Chaminade, is operated by the Marianist order. Representatives from both schools participate in a program that holds annual religious retreats on both sides of the Pacific. The trip is being viewed as a cultural exchange by both schools.

"With the spirituality aspect of the trip and playing the game, there are a lot of positive things that will come from this trip that the kids will remember for the rest of their lives," Lawson said.

"But we gotta find a little R&R."

Lawson said he plans to escape for some surfing on Sunday. He likely will have company.

"I think my coaches will be down at Kihei, where the waves aren't bad," Ane said. "The kids go there a lot, too. Like all young men of Hawaii, they surf. Me, I'm past that stage. I'm 62."

Lawson is far from finished.

"I've never surfed the huge waves for what Hawaii is famous for," Lawson said. "But I've had my share of pretty decent surf (there). The water is warm and the sun is nice."

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