Louis O. Fuentes, Jr. In 1962 Louis Fuentes, while volunteering at the Waipahu Recreation Center, was asked by Youth Coordinator Eddie Menor to go to the office and retrieve an official’s shirt. When Fuentes returned with the shirt, Menor told him to put it on and officiate a youth basketball game with him. That was the start of his illustrious officiating career. For the past 50 years, Fuentes has officiated youth and high school games and worked 28 seasons as a college official, from 1976-2004. He was also on the NBA referee roster from 1977-1979, and held positions as Assistant Commissioner and Assigner for the South Orange County Basketball Officials Association and Oʻahu Basketball Referees Association. At the high school level, Fuentes worked numerous OIA championship games and HHSAA State Championship games. He was on the staff of multiple NCAA Division I conferences: Western Athletic Conference; Mountain West Conference; Pac-8/Pac-10 Conferences; Pacific Coast Athletic Association/Big West Conference; West Coast Conference; and Big Sky Conference. He also worked NCAA Division II and Division III conferences and multiple Junior College conferences in Southern California. In 1984, Fuentes was honored by the Orange County Basketball Officials Association as “Official of the Year”. Fuentes’ accomplishments include working the 1980 Pacific Coast Athletic Association championship game, the NAIA national basketball tournament at Kemper Arena in Kansas City four consecutive years, including the semi-finals for three years and championship games in 1987 and 1988. In 1989, he officiated the California Junior College state championship tournament. Fuentes has coached various high school and youth league teams and continues to officiate youth and high school games for the Oahu Interscholastic Association.
George Gusman In 1974, a co-worker who was officiating high school football asked George Gusman if he might be interested in donning the stripes. He was indeed interested and began what would become a lifelong endeavor. Gusman worked Pop Warner games for five years and in 1975 began working high school games in the OIA. He became a referee in his third season and from 1975 to 1987, worked 12 OIA championship games and six Prep Bowl title games. While officiating high school football on Oahu, George served as a mentor, providing leadership to new officials. He has also served as the HHSAA coordinator of football officials. After working University of Hawai‘i non-conference games in 1986, and being invited to officiate the Hula Bowl all-ster game, Gusman was selected to join the Western Athletic Conference staff in 1988. In 2007 he was named to the first combined Big 12/Mountain West crew. He has been a member of the Big 12 officiating staff from 2009 to present day. Gusman has worked more than 25 bowl games, including the 2010 Rose Bowl and an unprecedented two National Championship games (2012 and 2015). Gusman also worked in the Arena2 Football League for three years, and was rated as the top head linesman in his second year. At the beginning of each football season, Gusman hosts an annual NCAA new rules information session for Hawaii media to cover new NCAA football rules. In addition to his work on the gridiron, Gusman has dedicated nearly 40 years to coaching baseball. The skipper started coaching on the diamond in 1972, including 17 years at Kamehameha Schools, before assuming his current role as head varsity baseball coach at his alma mater Saint Louis in 2010. He was honored as ILH Coach of the Year three times, and was also selected as Hawai‘i State Coach of the Year.
Dave "Koko" Mahukona Dave “Koko” Mahukona was a pioneer in modern basketball officiating as one of the first to referee major college basketball in Hawai‘i. Along with 2018 Hawai‘i Sports Officials Hall of Fame inductee Jimmy Aiona, Mahukona worked many of the Rainbow Classic tournaments hosted by the University of Hawai‘i in the early 1960s. He built the foundation for many officials with his no-nonsense approach to refereeing – he called it like he saw it. Mahukona mentored hundreds of officials from the 1960s through the 1990s as an assigner for college, high school and recreation leagues. He was also supervisor of basketball officials for the ILH. He had a passion for basketball and would observe games every night and provided constructive criticism to young officials willing to learn from his experience. Mahukona had a unique ability to convince players to give officiating a try, and was instrumental in recruiting many new officials. Before working major college basketball games, Mahukona donned the stripped shirt and worked games in the Armed Forces, high school, and recreation leagues across O‘ahu. He served as the supervisor of officials for the Hawai‘i conference of the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for over 30 years. He was also one of the co-founders of the NCAA Summer League and used the opportunity to observe young officials and develop their skills. In one famous incident in 1971, Mahukona officiated the University of Hawai‘i’s “Fabulous Five” against nationally ranked Florida State. UH led 30-10 in the first half when FSU coach Hugh Durham protested a foul, charged onto the court, admittedly used “obscene language” and was given two technical fouls and ejected. Durham, however, refused to leave the court. Mahukona told him he had to leave the court or the team would forfeit. Durham refused and the referee indeed called the forfeit. Florida State went on to reach the NCAA championship game later that season before eventually losing to UCLA. Mahukona was a civilian employee at Schofield Barracks, and many of his proteges have worked basketball at the highest levels in the country. He passed away in 2008 at the age of 87.
Herbert BS Minn Herbert Minn spent 80 years in and around boxing, a sport he took up as a young amateur fighter in the Catholic Youth Organization. He moved on to coach local and military boxing teams, including the Army squad, All-Armed Forces Team, and helped produce two Golden Gloves team championships, two Golden Gloves champions, six territorial championships and six individual territorial champions. He was also instrumental in bringing the sport of boxing to Korea. Minn coached the University of Hawai‘i boxing team from 1949 to 1958 and produced two NCAA Champions in Roy Kuboyama and Seiji Naya. He then followed his older brothers, Gilbert and Wilbert, into officiating the sport he loved. Minn was in high demand as a pro referee and judge, and was licensed to officiate fights in Hawai‘i from 1973 to 2004. He worked more than 40 world title bouts across the spectrum of the World Boxing Association, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Council. Minn also served as chairman of the Hawaii State Boxing Commission, and was named to the University of Hawai‘i Circle of Honor and the McKinley High School Hall of Honor as a highly respected individual within the boxing fraternity. In addition to his boxing accolades, in 1968 Minn became the first Korean to be named “Man of the Year” by the Chamber of Commerce of Hawai‘i. Minn passed away in January 2019 at the age of 95.
Wayne Ohashi After retiring from coaching in 1989, Wayne Ohashi was asked by OIA Executive Director Hugh Yoshida and ILH Wrestling Coordinator Jim Bukus to take charge of their respective wrestling officials’ groups. As a coach, Ohashi said he had probably been one of the biggest complainers about poor officiating, so he felt he must either “Put up or shut up”. He recruited three veteran officials and established the Hawaii Wrestling Officials Association, providing officials for both the OIA and ILH. Ohashi instituted a training program along with mandatory preseason tournament attendance. Officials were also required to take the NFHS officials test and he encouraged coaches to take the test as well. He was told that, previously, a person who wanted to be an OIA referee was given a rule book, told to buy a striped shirt and a whistle and was given their assignment with no training whatsoever. Ohashi also took an active role in training wrestling officials on Maui and Hawai‘i Island, assigning officials to work tournaments with local officials and helping with mechanics and rules interpretations while supervising them on the mat. This approach resulted in greater consistency when officials worked the HHSAA state tournament. Ohashi has worked as a high school and intermediate school wrestling official on Oahu for the past 26 years. He served as the first president of the Hawaii Wrestling Officials Association, was a Region 7 representative on the National Federation of State High School Association Wrestling Rules Committee and was the HHSAA wrestling coordinator from 1990-2007. Ohashi is a recipient of the OIA officials service award, and over the years, has remained active in the training, development and mentoring of new officials.
Joe Ornellas Joe Ornellas refereed football on O‘ahu for 40 years as a member of the Hawai‘i Football Officials Association, serving as president for many years. He was very active in the early days of Pop Warner football, officiating games from Wai‘anae to Hawai‘i Kai on most Saturdays and Sundays during the season. Ornellas worked with and learned from some of the icons of high school officiating in Hawai‘i: Walter Nobriga; Ted Nobriga; Aaron Neff; Bill Smith; and Ken Kaneko, to name a few. He served as president, rules interpreter and assigner for the association and traveled to the neighbor islands with then Punahou athletic director Ralph Martinson to conduct rules clinics for their officials. He also met with ILH teams during the preseason to discuss rules in general and new rules for the upcoming season. Along with executive secretary of the ILH Clay Benham, he assigned crews for ILH games. Ornellas was assigned as referee for the first Oʻahu Prep Bowl at the old Honolulu Stadium and officiated numerous Prep Bowl games. He was the referee for the majority of University of Hawai‘i home games in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s and was the referee for the 1978 game between USC and Hawai‘i before a sold-out crowd at Aloha Stadium. USC won 21-5 and went on to be national champions that year. The referee was hired by the Western Athletic Conference in 1979, along with fellow ILH official Al Barros and worked 16 years as a referee, umpire and back judge. Ornellas worked many road Division I games spanning across the nation from the Naval Academy to UCLA. He was assigned as back judge when USC played Colorado State in Melbourne, Australia. Upon retiring from the field in 1994, Joe was hired by Mike Pereira, assistant supervisor of WAC officials, as an evaluator responsible for rating officiating crews working UH home games. Ornellas officiated more than 25 Hula Bowl games, worked in the World Football League and was hired as an observer of officials for the Indoor Football League. In 2000, he was recognized by the NFHS Officials Association, the national body for high school officiating. During his long career, Ornellas was instrumental in mentoring many younger officials and nurturing those who made the move to the collegiate level.
Herbert Paleka, Jr. Born and raised on Molokaʻi, Herbert Paleka Jr. was a three-sport athlete (baseball, basketball and football) for the Farmers (class of 1964) before launching his officiating career on O‘ahu in 1967 as a Police Activities League youth baseball umpire. Paleka’s career advanced quickly as he was recruited by former minor league baseball umpire Hal Fitchett to work games for the “Hawai‘i Major League,” a competitive men’s baseball league that included teams such as Asahi, Giants, Red Landers, Hickam Flyers and Holsum Bakery. In addition to presiding over Little League and men’s baseball competitions, Paleka also umpired high school baseball games at Honolulu Stadium. In 1971, Paleka began officiating softball games as an Amateur Softball Association (ASA) umpire, encompassing all levels of fast and slow pitch. His experience as an umpire elevated Paleka to a leadership position in the Hawaii ASA organization where he served as ASA Hawaii State Deputy Umpire-Chief, tournament Umpire-in Chief (various state tournaments) and ASA Hawaii State Umpire-in-Chief. He was also an instructor for many softball umpire schools and clinics in Hawai‘i and was selected as a staff member for a National ASA Umpire School. Through his guidance, many officials rose through the ranks of umpiring. In the 1990s, Hawaii ASA saw a 60% increase in umpire registration, a trend that was attributed to Paleka’s idea of recruiting baseball and softball players to become umpires. He believed that ballplayers understood the game, thus it would be an easy transition from playing to officiating. He also hoped that by becoming umpires, players would have a greater appreciation and understanding for officials. Paleka worked with the new recruits and taught them the basic mechanics and intricacies of umpiring, and his efforts paid off as the newcomers became umpires and helped to ease the demands for softball officials. Paleka’s experience, knowledge, judgement and professionalism as an umpire earned him notoriety at the local, national and international level of softball competition.