For Jon Viela, the time was right.
Win or lose, he was ready to take that next step up the ladder. Viela recently retired from his coaching position after 25 seasons at Baldwin — nine as head coach — to become the next athletic director at Kamehameha-Maui. Going out with a perfect season and a state baseball championship was a dreamy script for the longtime baseball guru.
Looking back, Viela says it’s been about adapting without compromise. It is true, he said, that the new generation is different.
“As a school teacher, I see it in the classroom. You need to adapt to the students you have. That’s part of teaching,” Viela said. “But we don’t waver on the values of hard work, being honest, being on time. Respect. The way I we teach has changed. You can’t teach the same way to every single kid. When I was playing, it was taught one way and we all got it.”
The old-school hard line had its time and place. Viela, as much a coach of coaches as many other athletic directors have been, has adapted.
“We don’t do push-ups and laps. We tell them what the consequences will be so their learning is not punishment. We tell them why it’s important to listen and not talk,” he said.
After a flawless 17-0 season and a state championship for the first time in two decades, Viela didn’t hesitate to consider what the young Bears may be capable of in 2017. Could they go unbeaten again?
“I think they have the talent to,” he said of a Baldwin squad that graduated just four seniors, albeit one was All-State pitcher of the year Kawena Alo-Kaonohi. “For me, my style is they’ve got to work even harder to do it again. Now everyone’s gearing up for you. You have to get that much better and consistent. I think they have it in them to get better, and there’s room for improvement.”
It will start with leadership at the top.
“The staff we have coming back, it’s all the same guys, so they know what to do to repeat,” Viela said. “They know there’s no way they’ll just walk through. The MIL is tough. King Kekaulike, Kamehameha-Maui, Lahainaluna — they gave us tough games during the season. They know they can compete in the state. What happened this year creates more opportunities for the MIL.”