Coaches react to Matsumoto stepping down

Daniel Matsumoto stepped down after 15 years as Waianae's head football coach. Photo by FL Morris/Honolulu Star-Bullein.
Daniel Matsumoto stepped down after 15 years as Waianae’s head football coach. Photo by FL Morris/Honolulu Star-Bullein.

Daniel Matsumoto confirmed Friday that he has stepped down as Waianae’s head football coach after 15 years.

“Now I’ve got to figure out what to do with my free time now,” said Matsumoto, 53.

Nobody has coached against Matsumoto longer than Wendell Say, who has been at Aiea for 35 years, including 23 as head coach.


“I talked to him this week,” Say said. “He said he’s stepping down and that surprised me. He told he me he decided to give it up. He said the time was right.”

“All those years, he gave to the Waianae community and the school. I really enjoy being a colleague of his,” Leilehua coach Nolan Tokuda said. “He’s the last tie to (Larry) Ginoza, the tradition of disciplined, hard-nosed Waianae football. When I came in as a new coach, he really embraced me into the world of the OIA.”

Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez believes finding good head coaches and assistants on the Leeward Coast is rarely easy.

“I hope the next coach will uphold the tradition. I think Waianae still has a lot of history. The players play hard, physical football. They’re one of only two teams that has never dropped to the White (Conference). They haven’t won the OIA championship since Leo Taaca beat me when I was in Campbell 1996 and ’97,” Hernandez said. “There’s a lot of qualified coordinators in the OIA and ILH, but unless you live or work on the Leeward side, it’s a trek to get there. Traffic out that way is crazy.”


Campbell coach Amosa Amosa has known Matsumoto since his years as an assistant at Aiea.

“Waianae is always a program that we model our program like. I’ve always talked to him about what makes his program successful. I have a lot of respect for Dan,” Amosa said. “Sometimes, there’s a lack of appreciation for what he’s done as a head coach and my colleagues find it hard to comprehend. Dan is a classy guy and a great colleague. It’s sad to see him stepping down. He has a lot to offer that team. Waianae’s going to lose out on a great person.”

Say empathized with Matsumoto.

“We all put with the same things, but at some point, enough is enough. I told him, ‘I’m glad you did well even though you had six transfers go to Kapolei’,” he said.


“Danny had successful teams, but times change and parents try to run the show. They try to get the community after you. It’s different times. Parents are more enabling. Danny teaches discipline and he’s done a good job. It’s not just about winning championships. He’s very humble and doesn’t say much,” Say said. “Some kids don’t realize there are no short cuts. Some of them would rather be lazy.

“If Danny wants to come coach with us, he is always welcome.”

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