Alex Kane, who had a long and illustrious career as an athlete, coach, teacher, administrator and official, died Oct. 8 in his sleep at home. He was 83.
Kane played basketball and baseball and was a two-time ILH all-star in football for Kamehameha, graduating in 1954. He then played football at the University of Utah after growing up in Nanakuli.
Kane is best known for the legacy he left as a coach and AD at Kailua. As a head coach, he led the Surfriders to OIA baseball championships in 1963, ’65 and ’67 and to an OIA football title in 1965. He was the Star-Bulletin’s football state coach of the year after taking a team of 32 players to the OIA East title in 1987 and was the East coach of the year in 1990. He also served as Kailua’s track and field head coach.
“I used to think he was the owner of the school because he always had a million and one keys that opened pretty much anything,” his daughter, Kirstie Kane Akana said. “My father practically lived at the school. I remember his office having a bed and his own shower.
“He cared for the football field like it was his personal home lawn — weeding, mowing, measuring lines, sweeping up trash, fixing the stands, painting the announcers booth and any other maintenance that needed to be done.”
The Kailua football stadium is named after Kane, who remains the school’s all-time winningest coach in football: a 116-75-3 record in 18 seasons over two different stints.
In 2014, Kane stood at midfield to cheers while the stadium was being named in his honor.
Kane’s first coaching job was in 1958 for the Roosevelt football team. He retired from the DOE in 1994, but remained active by helping out in athletics statewide long after that. He was Kailua’s AD from 1962 to ’94.
Kane’s last football coaching job was in the 1996 and 1997 seasons at Kamehameha under head coach Kanani Souza, and he was also an assistant under Don Botelho at Pac-Five for two years before that.
Kane also stayed active on the playing fields, participating in slow-pitch softball into his 70s.
In addition, Kane was the coordinator for the Hawaii High School Athletic Association girls basketball state tournament for more than 25 years and served on the Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association executive committee.
Current Kailua football coach Joe Wong spoke highly of Kane’s contribution before the 2019 football season began.
“(He) made such an impact on my life as a man, as a coach and as a player,” Wong said. “As players, we owe a lot to him. We always called him ‘Coach’ or ‘The Man.’ ”
Keith Amemiya, the former HHSAA executive director, got to know Kane well over the years.
“He is a legend who will be sorely missed,” Amemiya said. “He was a leader among his peers in the football coaching ranks. Along with Hugh Yoshida, Larry Ginoza and others, he was instrumental in bringing the OIA to prominence during his tenure at Kailua.”
Said Kane’s son Eric: “His big thing was discipline in the sense of knowing what you gotta do and doing it. There was no whining, no complaining, no excuses. That there would always be challenges and to work to overcome the challenges. And if you say you’re going to do something, you needed to follow through with it. Outside of work, it was always family first.”
Alex Kane’s father, Alexander, also played football for Kamehameha, graduating in 1933.
Alex Kane and his wife, Frances (Stryer) had four children and they all graduated from Kamehameha — Eric, Jason, Kirstie and Aaron. He leaves 10 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Eric Kane is currently an assistant football coach under Abu Ma’afala at Kamehameha. His grand daughter Rachel Kane was the Hawaii girls basketball player of the year in 2003.