As a product of the UCLA baseball program, Billy Pieper delighted in the Bruins’ run to their first College World Series title in June.
As Kamehameha’s new varsity baseball coach, Pieper is hoping to instill some of the attributes he noted while tracking UCLA’s title chase.
“You look at the way they played, it was discipline,” Pieper said. “They weren’t hitting a lot balls out of the park, but they were playing great defense, great pitching, getting guys over into scoring position and getting hits at the right time.”
During his career as a two-sport athlete at Kamehameha and UCLA, Pieper’s sense of discipline was fostered by mentors including Blane Gaison and Vern Ramie during his high school days and Bruins baseball coach Gary Adams.
Pieper, a corner infielder in baseball and an outside linebacker in football in the mid-1990s, was informed of his hiring on Monday and succeeds Ramie as the leader of the Kamehameha baseball program. Ramie resigned in June after 23 years coaching the Warriors.
Pieper, a 1996 Kamehameha graduate, played for Ramie and coached with him on the Warriors’ staff from 2002 to 2010. He took the last few years off to help coach his son, now 10, and is eager to get back into coaching at the high school level with one of the state’s most prominent programs.
“I’m excited to use all the skill sets and tools (Ramie) blessed me with, I’ve known him now for 20-plus years, to use those things to continue what he’s been doing at the school,” Pieper said.
“We want to continue to build on that legacy and continue to take it to the next level by focusing on creating excellent Hawaiian men. … We want people to put a premium on discipline and work ethic. We want to build a legacy of sending kids on to the next level, where they can hopefully use their baseball talents to provide them with an education.”
It’s a path Pieper followed after graduating from Kamehameha.
He was drafted by the New York Yankees out of high school but chose to attend UCLA. He was part of the 1997 UCLA team that advanced to the College World Series with a roster that included eventual big-leaguers Troy Glaus, Eric Byrnes and Jim Parque.
“You talk about discipline, this guy is an animal. He was awesome,” Pieper said of playing for Adams. “Work ethic is one of the few things in sports you can control and we have to be excellent at the things we can control.”
He signed with the Kansas City Royals organization after college and played three seasons, advancing to Double-A before returning to Hawaii. Along with a degree in Sociology from UCLA, Pieper earned a Master’s degree in Business Administration at the University of Hawaii and is Vice President of Business Development with Makai Ocean Engineering.
Now that his hiring at Kamehameha is official, Pieper’s first priority is assembling a coaching staff and plans to talk to current assistant coaches to gauge their interest in returning.
He’s also looking forward to meeting with the players, “to share the vision and share the culture and share some of the principles this team is really going to promote and push.”
“The focus is on the kids and the focus is on developing these athletes, from seventh graders all the way up to the seniors.”