Kekauoha and grandfather share a special bond

‘Iolani's Moea Kekauoha hit against Kamehameha blockers during the state final loss to the Warriors on Oct. 31 at Blaisdell Arena. Bruce Asato / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
‘Iolani’s Moea Kekauoha hit against Kamehameha blockers during the state final loss to the Warriors on Oct. 31 at Blaisdell Arena. Bruce Asato / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

One of Moea Kekauoha‘s best volleyball traits is that she’s good at everything on the court —— hitting from the front row, hitting from the back row, digging, serving, passing and not making many mistakes.

The senior was voted by coaches around the state to the No. 3 ranking in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Fab 15 that was released Sunday.

It’s not a big surprise that Kakeauoha’s volleyball exploits have been at ‘Iolani, where her grandfather, Bernie Ching, has been a coach in various sports for 46 years and a security guard for 36.

Ching is near and dear to Kekauoha’s heart, and vice versa.

“Even in kindergarten, I would see him come by close to my classroom to check on me,” Kekauoha said. “Now, I see him every day I drive by (the security office at the entrance to the school parking lot). He always asks me if I need money for lunch. That’s the way he has always been. He is always buying us (Kekauoha and her sisters and her cousins) food, but he makes sure we never waste it.”

Two years ago, Kekauoha did a 10th-grade class project on Ching, who was a member of the musical group The Surfers, and Ching’s father, Sam Mokuahi, who was a full Hawaiian and one of the original Waikiki beach boys with Duke Kahanamoku.

“I remember when I was really young, Papa (Ching) would tell me about how much he had loved to perform with his band at Disneyland,” Kekauoha said. “He told us he used to always go there and he would laugh about the stories and talk about it for a long time. As a kid, I was thinking Disneyland sounded like a good place to live.”

Ching, 76, coached ‘Iolani’s girls basketball teams to three Interscholastic League of Honolulu championships (1989, 1995 and 1996) and four state championships (1989, 1993, 1995 and 1996). He was also a boys basketball assistant under Mark Mugiishi during the Raiders’ run of state titles in the early 2000s. Ching is currently a paddling assistant coach with the Raiders and previously was a head football coach at the intermediate and junior varsity levels.

While he was with The Surfers, the group recorded the album “Blue Hawaii” with Elvis Presley, and it became a gold record.

According to Kekauoha, Ching —— who plays guitar, bass and ukulele and sings —— still performs with two other guys on Tuesday nights at the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort. They don’t have a band name.

“I enjoy going to my grandfather’s gigs,” Kekauoha said.

And Ching enjoys going to Kekauoha’s high school and club volleyball matches.

“He always asks me to print out a schedule for him and he’s always there,” she said.

Now, Ching’s grandkids, including Kekauoha, take care of him.

“I have arthritis and they will come over and massage my shoulders,” he said. “I’m still working at ‘Iolani. I’m lucky to be still working. It keeps me busy.”


  1. hossana November 29, 2015 6:14 am

    great story and bond between the old and the this case, Bernie with his granddaughter and the love and care each have for each other.

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