UH Hilo alumnus Alika Toledo says it’s a privilege caring for Maunakea, coaching at Waiākea High

UH Hilo alum Alika Toledo oversees access to the summit through road grading and snow clearing operations. He also coaches golf at his other alma mater, Waiākea High.

Coach and four players, all in blue golf shirts. All have while caps with large blue "W."
From left, Coach Alika Toledo, with Waiākea High School golfers Jake Otani, Dysen Park, Noah Otani and Ryder Ng. (Courtesy photo/UH System News)

More than 9,000 feet up majestic Maunakea is where you’ll find University of Hawai‘i at Hilo alumnus Alika Toledo and his crew on weekdays. The longtime employee at the UH Hilo Center for Maunakea Stewardship—from when it was the Office of Maunakea Management—oversees access to the summit through road grading and snow clearing operations, as well as facilities maintenance of the visitor information center and Halepōhaku, a facility at the mid-level elevation on the mauna.

“It’s a privilege for me to work up here. It’s unique, it’s special, and there’s no other place like it,” says Toledo, who refers to Maunakea as God’s country.

Tractor clearing gravel off roadway.
Alika Toledo and crew work atop Maunakea, maintain road to summit. (Courtesy photo)
Road crew of four men stand for photo in front of front loader.
From left, Maunakea road crew Alika Toledo, Douglas Astrande, Tracy Miyashiro, and Aaron Zimmer. (Courtesy photo)

When Toledo is not working, his love for a game that jetted him into the spotlight as a young teenager isn’t very far. For the past 11 years, he’s coached the boys golf team at his alma mater, Waiākea High School. In his senior year in 1984, he won the individual state title leading Waiākea to the team title. This year, the Waiākea Warriors won the state high school championship and came in fifth at the PGA High School Golf National Invitational in Frisco, Texas.

“My players Dysen Park, Mike Lopez, Noah Otani, Ryder Ng, Jake Otani and Laʻa Kaawaloa-Okita all come with very supportive families, which makes coaching so much easier,” Toledo explains. “This team has been successful for a bunch of reasons this year. Their school, their parents and loved ones, their community and their competitiveness and positivity for each other, which is so hard to find nowadays, was key to their success.”

Thankful for opportunities

Large machine clearing snow of road.
Toledo’s crew clears snow from the road to the summit to enable safe access. (Courtesy photo)

Toledo’s push-hard approach he ingrains into his players is the same recipe applied to his very own career. The Hawai‘i Island native has worked for the Center for Maunakea Stewardship’s Maunakea Shared Services department for nine years, from when it fell under the Office of Maunakea Management.

Born and raised on the Hilo side of the state’s largest island, Toledo recalls job opportunities that came and eventually faded when sugar plantations closed on Hawai‘i Island. He and his wife Lacey share six boys and a daughter together. He is thankful that the arrival of the state’s astronomy sector in the 1960s provided employment opportunities on his island, everything from food services and engineering to native plant restoration.

Astronomy is responsible for more than 600 jobs on Hawai‘i Island and generates $102 million annually for the island economy, according to a 2019 UH Economic Research Organization report.

Toledo expresses his fascination with the mysteries far beyond the Milky Way that astronomers on Maunakea unlock.

“We have the best platform in the world to put a telescope, and to have the clearance of the galaxies and of everything else that is out there. Besides bringing in jobs to the island, it’s that special,” says Toledo.

UH System News

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