Coaches chime in on Okimoto’s suggestion

Farrington's Randall Okimoto and his fellow coaches around the island are feeling a time crunch. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser
Farrington’s Randall Okimoto and his fellow coaches around the island are feeling a time crunch. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser

Twenty years since he first began coaching at his alma mater, Randall Okimoto has proven to be a speak softly kind of guy.

That’s always intriguing considering he was a record-setting running back at Farrington who went on to play at the University of Hawaii, where he earned his degree.

“I knew from the start of my college career I wanted to be an educator. And the only place I wanted to be at that time was here at Farrington High School because this is home,” Okimoto wrote in a text. “This is home and a place that I was most familiar and comfortable with at the time.” 

Okimoto has been a fixture for the Governors, and as their beautiful new field and its majestic “G” logo are being installed, momentum is a wave rushing forward in Bleed Maroon land. But reality always seems to strike when they least expect it. Last week, Okimoto wanted to chat about the current state of working conditions for head football coaches. But the life of football player Wesley Sula was taken tragically. Horrifically. Farrington’s faculty mobilized in crisis-management mode. Interviews with high school sportswriters would have to wait, understandably. 

The school went into mourning. A candlelight vigil drew Governors by the hundreds. For a school that seems constantly under siege — there was an attack by a few adults on students during an incident last year, and in 2013, football player Dayne Ortiz went missing off the North Shore as he spent a day off with family — there is unity. The Govs know it well. Pain. Prayer. More pain. More prayer.

And underneath it all, the faculty provides support. When Okimoto says some things could stand to change, it’s not about his love for the kids of Kalihi or his choice of profession. What head football coaches on campus really need, he says, is a little bit of mercy. 

See the story on Okimoto’s informal proposal here in Tuesday’s Star-Advertiser

Okimoto’s initial comment about working conditions for head football coaches was e-mailed and texted to various colleagues earlier in the week. From Waianae to Aiea to Leilehua to Kahuku, many of his peers chimed in via e-mail, text or by phone. Some did not respond. Most echoed his sentiments fully.

Vavae Tata, Kahuku football coach
I agree with coach Okimoto. I believe we have to look at ourselves as teachers first; coach second. We are given the responsibility to foster and teach our student athletes to be Limitless. Equip our student athletes with life lessons that will produce  great citizens, husbands, and fathers. So yes, HC must be recognized as admins. HC not only make an impact on our student athletes as football players but HC are also the uncle or father figure that a lot of our student athletes are missing at home.

As far as HC compensation goes, I firmly believe we will never be able to compete with schools on the mainland. I have colleagues that are HC in the mainland that are making 6 figure salaries. It’ll be a game changer if we could get our HC compensation changed to a base salary compared to the current per diem that HC receive today.

• • • • •

Walter Young, Waianae football coach
I think with the amount of time and responsibilities that comes with a football head coaches position.  The schools and the DOE should look into giving the coach a schedule that allows them to do some of these responsibilities on school time since it has a big effect on the school, community and pride. Trying to get student-athletes to the next level by talking to college recruiters, writing letters of recommendations, community service, act/sat, meeting with recruiter, year-round study hall to keep grades up and the list goes on and on. 

These are some of the things we do during the season and in the off season. Countless hours away from our families who understands the big picture of helping these student-athletes be successful.

• • • • •

Nolan Tokuda, Leilehua football coach
I totally agree 100 percent. At certain schools they don’t consider that as a responsibility instead they give you the same amount of work as everyone else and then we are left to find time on our own to complete our responsibilities as a head coach. From writing letters of recommendation, double checking on our student athletes eligibility requirements and to promote them to the next level (college education and athletic participation).

In addition when football players get into issues academically or socially who do they contact? Football coach of course. Who do they ask when they security For school events? Football coaches. When the school day ends at 3:30. The rest of the faculty are able to go home when our day is only half done. 

We are there at the field from 4-7 p.m. Not to mention locking up the facility, closing the lockerroom monitoring grade checks and study halls. So times 3 hours a day for 6 days. 18 hours a week extra with these student athletes teaching to become better men and leaders for the next generation. Let’s not forget the time we use scouting and breaking down video.  Another 5-8 hours a week on our time with my daughter Taytum is sleeping.

Our end of the season stipend as a head coach $3500. Eighteen hours per week times 4 weeks times 10 months of the year. 720 hours Spent divided into $3500. Equals $4.86/hour. That’s not even counting study hall. Video breakdown and scouting. If I add that it would be $4.45. Imagine if they just paid us minimum wage.

During season I go to bed on average around 1 a.m. and wake up at 6. Friday night I get home around 1 a.m. Watch the video of the game we just played so I’m up to 3:30 a.m. Then I review my scout notes for the upcoming opponent so I’m up to 5:15 a.m. We have study hall at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Followed by walk-through, so I get out of there around noon with less than 4 hours of sleep then I go out to scout around 5 p.m. so I get to see my Daughter for 3-4 hours on Saturday then I see her Sunday morning.

(A solution would be) get compensated for the hours. $$ amount of time off. Maybe flex time. Start work at 10 a.m. or free periods.  All those things. Compensation first if not then flex.

HPW: Coach Okimoto says (former OIA executive director, Kaimuki athletic director and football coach) Dwight Toyama once told him it adds up to 7 cents per hour.

Sounds about right. And we are the highest paid.

• • • • •

Joseph Hauoli Wong, Kailua football coach
I’m not a staff (faculty) member and even though we’re not compensated who’s going to impact them as much as we do. We reinforce what the teachers are trying to say, and we put in countless hours. We don’t do it for the pay but it would be nice to be compensated. 

I like the flexibility I have at my job (at a union). I can leave early on a Friday, but I do work on Saturdays.

• • • • •

Wendell Say, Aiea football coach
Aloha Paul,

I like what Randall says, there is a lot of truth to that but the fact is also that we accepted the job knowing that the responsibilities are many. Coming out of College I never thought I’d be an educator but football gave me the opportunity to get a College degree and I had great high school coaches and college coaches that inspired me.  When the chance to be an assistant coach came up in 1980 I jumped at the opportunity to give back to these kids… little did I know how much I would love working with them.

Like Randall said, we sacrifice many hours away from wives and growing family members and the monetary stipend/compensation is minimal. As an educator I am not at the top of my pay scale because we need to take classes to get credit to move up in pay grade. I never had the time to do that because of my time spent coaching. So I am basically an old teacher getting paid a little more than a new teacher.

Finding assistant coaches lately has been very hard.  Everyone wants to be on the sideline Friday nights but can’t get a commitment the other six days. I am the only coach on staff, my assistants all work outside of the school so it is tough to keep our coaches informed about each player in school. Even Head Coaches are getting harder to find. Besides coaching year round and conditioning, keeping players interested, checking academics, weightlifting, uniform laundry, and lining the field. No one stays longer than five years anymore.

I am a school counselor and I understand what Randall says as a teacher. As a counselor I am a little more flexible but I have to be available for more meetings. I spent my recess and lunch break in the cafeteria monitoring our kids. I don’t need to but I do it to see our players and the student and make sure that they are behaving.

Our counterparts on the mainland are compensated way more than we are for what we do and I think that any job position whether in school or outside will argue that they are not compensated enough too. So what do we do?  Again we accepted what we do and I am committed to giving my all to my players. 

• • • • •

OIA athletic director (identity withheld by request)
Honestly, I don’t want to go on record. I’m kind of in agreement with Wendell. I know football is a different animal, but all of us who are or were coaches know you have to put the time in.

As a coach, I would never have thought to ask for more flex time. It’s shocking to hear this, but not absurd. I can understand. If you can’t make the commitment to do both then you might have to choose one (family or head coaching).


  1. oldtimer808 April 19, 2016 5:41 pm

    I understand where Okimoto is coming from and I am in total disagreement with the AD who choose not to be identified. A lot of coaches do exactly what the AD suggested and leave coaching because the burden is just too much. Ultimately the kids suffer with revolving door coaches who are unable to commit their time and energy. To say choose your family or commitment to coaching is blatantly status quo and wrong. There needs to be a meeting of the minds and spirit and not have that kind of attitude of you knew the circumstances before you committed as a coach so take it or leave…ts.

  2. Jeezy33 April 19, 2016 6:04 pm

    The coaching pay is fine as it is. Most of these coaches aren’t even developing high level college ready players (both academically and on the field) anyway with a few exceptions. When is the last time Aiea even sent a player to a division I school, much less have someone start for them? In the ’70s?


    I watch a lot of high school ball and I can evaluate talent along with my inside sources. If the coaches want mainland pay, then they better start giving mainland results.

  3. Mahatma Gandhi April 19, 2016 6:36 pm

    Jeezy, Aiea along with so many other OIA schools, is getting their roster raided by the ILH. Aiea never was a football power. Baseball was always their sport.
    Lawrence Lagafuaina was a Div 1 player, played at Washington. Yeah, that Washington, Pac-12 Washington.
    Moronai Ufiufui was back in the late 1980s.

  4. 88 April 19, 2016 7:07 pm

    Jeezy, The ILH coaches raid the elite talent from around the state so that their pay can be comparable to the mainland. Cal Lee has been doing it for years and his reward is that his name is enshrined in Hawaii high school history because of their multiple state championships in the 90’s. Not that hard to win games when you recruit all the best talent on Oahu at one school (St. Louis). Look at Cal Lee now, cant even win an ILH championship because Punahou joined the party and is recruiting more talent to their football team.

  5. Mahatma Gandhi April 19, 2016 7:42 pm

    88, it’s obvious Punahou is recruiting football players now. But in their defense, they HAD to do it if they wanted a competitive football program. St Louis stared recruiting big-time in the early 1980s. Punahou held out for 20 years, trying to do it the right way. And Punahou had to fight damn hard to win both their state football championships. Neither came easy, which is the way it should be. I knew St Louis was recruiting football players. I figured it was their win-at-all-costs alumni and boosters who were recruiting the Samoans. But I know a consensus St Louis 1st team ILH All-Star from the 1970s. He told me Cal Lee is the one behind it all, that he is the one directing and coordinating all the recruiting. That he is the one sending our scouts to Pop Warner games, identifying the top young football talent in the state. The downside to all this recruiting is it has destroyed the competitive balance of Hawaii state high school football and has gutted the rosters of so many OIA teams. I grew up in the 1970s. The ILH was competitive top to bottom. Back then Iolani and Punahou would recruit one surefire Pac-10 player a year. No more than 1 player a year.. Nowadays they going after the small college player too. I blame St Louis 100%.

  6. turfwar April 19, 2016 8:54 pm

    A close friend has coached at several schools in So. California for the past ten years or so and high schools there already set aside the last class period of the day for the players and coaches to prep for the days activities whether practice or game day. He continues to coach there to this day and not only enjoys the perks which includes a significant pay increase from what he was getting here but also facilities provided by state funds including new fields (fieldturf), new buses, weight and training rooms, etc. Yes all funded by a state supposedly in more economic turmoil than Hawaii. It’s all about priorities. And yes the head coaches he has worked for all made six figure salaries.

  7. 88 April 19, 2016 9:26 pm

    Football events from pop-warner up to the NFL draw large crowds/ large interest and generate lots of money. In order for these mainland high school coaches to keep their high paying jobs they will do anything possible (recruiting, cheating, bending rules, bribery etc..) to win games. Winning games means they keep their jobs. The ILH coaches are the same because they have connections with colleges and they want to supply these colleges with elite athletes so they cherry pick the best talent from around the island.

    Public school coaches like Okimoto suffer because their talent is siphoned and they are left with below average talent and end up losing games because of it. I think Okimoto is a better coach then Cal or Ron Lee because Okimoto deals with the real inner city, poverty kids and helps them get to graduation. The private school coaches dont have to deal with problem students or academically challenged kids. Most of the football season the public school rosters have kids that are academically ineligible to play.

  8. 88 April 19, 2016 9:33 pm

    OIA Coaches that have won State titles with limited resources like Leilehua’s Nolan Tokuda, Kahukus Siuaki Livai, Reggie Torres, Vae Tata are all better then any ILH coach will ever be, because they won the hard way, no recruiting involved. Just pure mentorship and teaching.

    Mililani is in the boat as the ILH coaches that have to recruit to win championships.

  9. Mahatma Gandhi April 20, 2016 2:22 am

    88, Nolan Tokuda won the state football championship in 2007 by beating St Louis. St Louis had way better players. No way Leilehua should have won the game. I think they had like only 2 first downs in the first half. Second half they was able to get the ball moving, barely, with average athletes. Kudos to Nolan Tokuda for pulling that off. I think 2 players on that team got late lower level Div 1 offers. Robert Siavii and Art Laurel. At first, no players on that team got Div 1 offers. But because they won the state championship, colleges figured they had to have at least 1 Div 1 player, so they took a look at all of Leilehua’s players yet again, then finally Idaho offered Siavii.

  10. Duane Fraticelli April 20, 2016 7:53 am

    I believe the coaches should be unionized some how like the umpires are with baseball. The parents have all the rights and as for me being a coach for 23 years we still don’t have a say on our student athletes. The parents have all the rights and the coaches are not protected.

  11. Duane Fraticelli April 20, 2016 7:56 am

    I believe the coaches should be unionized some how like the umpires are with baseball. The parents have all the rights and as for me being a coach for 23 years we still don’t have a say on our student athletes. The parents have all the rights and the coaches are not protected.

  12. Coach 1402 April 20, 2016 8:42 am

    So my question is this,
    Is Coach Okimoto saying that ONLY high school football coaches should get this special preference?
    According to this article, his football salary is already higher than other athletic coaches. I know this because I am currently coaching an athletic sport at an Oahu high school.
    It seems that he is suggesting that football coaches do more work than other coaches from different sports. If that’s the case, that’s unjust. I understand that football is King in most communities (I do, I honestly do), but come on, let’s be real we aren’t talking about college level athletics here.

    I am also curious to find out what the “compensation” would be for non-teachers? Do they get to leave their jobs one hour early?

  13. Education First April 20, 2016 9:31 am

    Coaches are paid fine as it is. The myth is that the ILH coaches are paid way more than the OIA coaches. It just isn’t true. It’s a hobby, plan and simple. That is why they are paid peanuts. If you want to get paid more, find a new profession. High School coaching isn’t a high paying job.

    Also, coaches didn’t take the PRAXIS tests to certify them to teach. They don’t pay HSTA union dues. They were never put on probation for 1-2 year and have to be evaluated using the old PEP-T model. Many of them didn’t graduate with a SATEP Degree in Education. So if they didn’t have to go through all these steps, why do they think they should get paid like teachers? You don’t even need a Bachelor’s Degree to coach High School Sports in Hawaii.

    As for comparing ILH vs. OIA coaches, the points are moot. Maybe OIA coaches have to deal with private schools recruiting. But ILH coaches have to deal with parents making 6 figures going being their back to the AD to get things done when they disagree. And trust me, when a donor has a kid going to Punahou or Iolani and they are donating $75K a year, admin is listening.

    There are pros and cons to both jobs. It’s naive and ignorant to think one is harder or easier than the other. They are both challenging.

  14. AOK April 20, 2016 10:41 am

    @88 What a fine memory you have. STL just won ILH this year!

  15. Education First April 20, 2016 1:21 pm

    What are the limited resources the OIA coaches have to deal with? Mililani has a pool of over 2000 kids to pick from. Let’s assume half of them are male. That’s 1000 guys to pick from. Same goes for Farrington.

    The ILH does recruit here and there. But let’s also remember it’s not like they are grabbing all the top kids, just some of them. And not all of the kids they go after get in.

    That’s like saying the coaches who coach in the Mountain West, WAC, Big Sky are better than the ones in the SEC, PAC 12, BIG 10, and BIG 12 since those schools have more resources and have better chances of getting top athletes.

    That is just ignorant.

  16. bumbucha April 20, 2016 9:31 pm


  17. bumbucha April 20, 2016 9:59 pm

    Wendell Say and the unknown AD do no justice to the cause of HC’s getting flex time or increased pay. It’s like saying it’s ok that they get paid peanuts as they knew what they were getting into and accepting that. Haha, yup, make a choice, priorities and choose; coaching or teaching?
    Are you kidding me? The ILH recruits small klne? NOT! only the cream of the crop! but thats fine, give a kid an opportunity. Let us not fool anyone, all of the private schools recruit heavily; St. Louis, Punahou, Damien, Kam, Iolani., even St. Francis!
    For every Mililani, Kapolei where athletes flock to transfer, there are 10 public schools program where limited numbers, plenty have to go both ways, substandard facilities, substandard equipment, etc.
    BTW, almost all of the public schools HC’s are Teachers who have been certified, gone thru Teacher’s evals, are in the Teacher’s union. My friend, walk in the shoes of a OIA HC and you’ll be singing a different tune.

  18. Watson Tanuvasa April 20, 2016 10:12 pm

    Anyone that goes into High School coaching do not do it for the money… they do it for the love of the sport and the players. Making a difference in these young kids lives is the main goal not winning. Winning is a result of hard work, sacrifice and committment to the program. 99.9% of all coaches apply for the position with full knowledge that this is not a high paying position because the school budgets do not have the funds for that, which is why it’s a stipend given to all coaches. Most coaching staff have more than 7 coaches on staff yet the budget allows only 7 coaches to receive stipends. The rest of the coaches do it for the love of the players and sport. What of these coaches who know they are not getting a dime yet spend just as much time and sacrifice as the stipend coaches. Trying to give any coach more money will result in schools shutting down other programs to make up the difference. Is this what we want?
    My short stint as a head coach build a great passion in me but the article is accurate with the time and energy that it takes to be a head coach. My family needed me more but I have always volunteered my time and energy with the Govonors program in the past four years. Go Govs.

  19. Education First April 21, 2016 10:04 am

    Wow, Watson hit it right on the nose! Unlike some others, lol.

  20. phILHarmonic April 21, 2016 3:09 pm

    Some great points, some not so great.
    I think this pertains most to Head Coaches in the OIA that also work at the High School they coach for. I understand that all coaches commit to coaching eyes wide open, but I think that is why Randall is asking for “mercy”. Football is unlike any other HS sport simply because of its #amount of players which makes its load much more pronounced, BUT, it gives the most opportunity to shape our community and the future of our Islands. I commend all HS coaches ILH or OIA in helping our youth to become the future leaders of our communities.
    With regards to recruiting and its effects on OIA schools,
    I wouldnt give ILH all the credit for the massive shift of power for football. There are many contributing factors: More options for kids nowadays besides playing sports, There are much more schools on Oahu, not to mention homeschool, BEACH-SURF- age old struggle with Hawaii kids, disgruntled parents, motivated parents, etc..
    This last part is for JEEZY-
    I dont think that stat is as important as to how many of these players grow up to be positive contributing people in society. You watch a lot of HS football huh? good stay on that side of the fence with that mentality, along with your inside sources.

  21. Mahatma Gandhi April 21, 2016 5:00 pm

    Watson Tanuvasa, MOANALUA grad around 1979, not a Farrington grad. The brother Onosai went Farrington. Had the ILH single season rushing record for a while.
    I know full well what Hawaii high school head coaches are up against. The time they put in for little money. It IS about love of the kids and the game. I have the utmost appreciation for the time and effort our high school coaches put in. That’s why I hated for the few Kahuku parents turning against their basketball coach. For all that time Coach Akina devoted to the Kahuku basketball program, and he had to to through that?! AUWE.

  22. Girls BBall Fan April 21, 2016 9:08 pm

    Track and Field coaches often have more players to coach than Football.

  23. 88 April 23, 2016 7:31 pm

    Maybe Castle might have more Track&Field players than Football players….. These Coaches need to get paid.

  24. cimua April 24, 2016 6:41 pm

    Coaches can make a huge impact in students’ lives and think they should be compensated accordingly. I completely understand and agree with the premise that there should be some level of education or qualifications in order to receive higher pay, but nonetheless, they do deserve to be paid. Being someone with a family member who was a line coach, he devoted so much of his time to the team and he was only dealing with the line. As far as I know the stipend he received was not appropriated to the amount of time he dedicated. I believe the right coaches can make all the difference in molding student athletes on and off the field and think that they should be paid for their time and effort.

  25. SimpleSimon April 26, 2016 6:41 am

    What track and field team has more than 40 athletes?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email