Chee settles in as Kaiser athletic director

Funny how things happen when you’re on the Hawaii Prep World trail.

After being assigned duties away from the high school beat for a few months, the first assignment back was the OIA swimming and diving championships at Veterans Memorial Aquatic Complex in Waipio on Saturday.

Before going, it was time to check the internet to see which of the OIA athletic directors is in charge of that event. Turns out, Bryan Almadova was the person listed as the OIA coordinator on the league’s website. Last we heard, Almadova was the acting AD over at Kaiser.

Better check the HHSAA website to see who is listed as the Cougars’ AD because the school may have since made a decision on who would be in the role for real. Would Rodney Iwasaki come back from his leave or would someone else take over?

On the HHSAA site, Nelson Chee is listed as the athletic director. Hmmm, and yes, a call to Almadova yielded that new information: Chee is indeed the new athletic director.

On to the swim meet, where a couple of Kaiser guys wearing the blue and gold were at the end of the pool.

“Which one of you is Nelson?”

They pointed about 50 yards away and there he was, the new man in charge of Cougars athletics.

After a brief introduction, Chee said he is a Kaiser alum who used to run cross country and track and played soccer for the Cougars and that he graduated in 1991.

“I’m very appreciative of the job,” Chee said. “I’ve always wanted to come back. It’s a little earlier for me than when I thought would get the job, but I knew I eventually wanted to come back. There’s excellent facilities at Kaiser. The community is great.”

Chee was a college counselor at Castle for almost 18 years and also coached track and cross country. In addition, at one point, he also coached those two sports at Kaiser.

Chee became an assistant athletic director at Castle, where he learned the ropes from Knights AD Layne Sueyasu.

“She was an excellent mentor for me to learn a lot of stuff,” Chee said. “That’s how I learned that I wanted to move into (an AD spot) eventually. It solidified it because of the things she does, the way she does it.”

Chee went to the University of Hawaii and because there was no men’s track or cross country team, the only way for him to stay with those sports was to coach.

“Coaching led me to the education field and I ended up being a counselor, and the counselor portion ended up getting me to Castle and I just continued to coach there and got into athletics and combined the two and now I’m here (at Kaiser).”

At the swim meet, the Kaiser girls won the championship and coach Asa Tanaka credited the school’s first athletic director in 1971, Ted Fukushima, with helping his team to the title.

It was Fukushima’s decision to keep the diving board at the pool a long time ago, and Tanaka added that the Kaiser divers’ 50 points (along with the fact that all other schools with pools have abandoned the diving board, mostly due to liability) enabled the girls to clinch it.

Talk about full circle.

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