Wendell Say will start his 25th season as Aiea’s head football coach on Friday as Na Alii visits Nanakuli (0-1).
It’s been a long ride at Aiea for Say, who began with the school as an assistant in 1980. He was two years out of Linfield College, where he played football, when his friend, Marco Min, told him there was a job opening on Na Alii staff.
I interviewed with Ray Higa, the head coach at the time, and he hired me,” Say said Monday.
Say is back at practice after missing a week and a half with two medical problems that required a total of five days of hospitalization.
An intestinal problem lasted four days and Say said he was fortunate that the problem got better without surgery. He went back to the hospital for a day with muscle spasms, but now he said he’s feeling fine and he’s doing physical therapy.
Na Alii scrimmaged at home against Kailua on Friday.
“It was kind of sloppy on both sides,” Say, 60, said. “Kailua scored two times. They’re big. It’s a good thing it was a scrimmage. Now it’s all about getting the kids up to par. I’m excited about the team. I feel bad I was out. My assistants did a great job, and the kids were all happy to see me come back. I miss them. They’re the ones who keep me young. “(I’ve learned) you’ve got to take care of yourself. My mind thinks I’m young. The body is a little behind.”
Say, who led Aiea to the first Division II state championship in 2003, is trying to improve on Na Alii’s 1-7 record from 2015. This is his 37th season overall with the program.