(Adds commentary by former Pac-Five football coach Kip Botelho, current Damien boys basketball coach Keith Spencer., former boys basketball coach Alvin Stephenson and girls basketball coach Mark Arquero.)
Eddie Klaneski has stepped down as athletic director and football coach at Damien.
School President Dr. Kyle Atabay confirmed the news Friday morning.
“I can say that he turned in a resignation letter earlier this week. Yesterday (Wednesday), I believe he spoke with his coaches, as well as his football team, about his decision to do so,” Atabay said. “In cooperation with him, we announced to our faculty and staff about his departure.”
The former Monarch player did not return calls for comment.
Klaneski’s Monarchs have been highly competitive in Divisions I and II since his emergence as head coach in 2011. Damien reached the D-I state final in ’17, losing to Hilo.
“We are definitely going to miss him. He admits this was a really hard decision for himself. We’re just really grateful for the many years of service he gave to Damien as an employee, but we all get to that point in our lives where we make a decision.”
Klaneski, a 1993 graduate of Damien, will be involved in a different way.
“I don’t think we’re seeing the last of him because he’s an alumni and he’s tied to us. He’s talked about staying involved as an alum in fundraising events and other capacities,” Atabay said. “I think we’ll still be seeing him a lot.”
The Monarchs are still practicing fall sports, not subject to the DOE’s recent postponement of the season. Damien will likely name an interim head coach before the ILH begins playing games.
“I think within his staff he made sure things would be taken care of temporarily, so there isn’t a worry there. Football’s a little bit on hold, though in the ILH we’re trying our best,” Atabay said.
In June of ’20, under different leadership, the school initially removed Klaneski as football coach while reassigning then-athletic director Rudy Alejo. Klaneski’s status was reestablished soon after, and he was also promoted to the AD position.
On Aug. 4, two days before the regular season was scheduled to begin, the DOE postponed fall sports until Sept. 24 due to a spike in new cases of COVID-19. Damien’s first game had been scheduled Aug. 7 at Radford.
Klaneski leaves big shoes to fill.
“I will always be appreciative of him hiring me as the boys basketball coach,” Keith Spencer said. “He’s a great man and he will truly be missed at Damien. He’s a true Damien person. Best wishes to him moving forward in the next chapter of his life.”
“Two words come to mind: fierce competitor,” former Pac-Five football coach Kip Botelho said. “And that spirit transferred over to his players. His teams always played hard for him and he brought a winning culture to the program.”
Alvin Stephenson coached the boys basketball program to some of its most successful seasons before stepping down in 2020. He is now in the police academy at San Mateo, Calif.
“I think Eddie has done an amazing job at Damien. I believe he has been coaching at Damien 20 years (including assistant coaching). That’s a long time. All good things must come to an end at some point. Damien will definitely miss him. He has done a lot for the kids at Damien, sacrificing 20 years of his life with countless sleepless nights grinding, watching film to prepare for the boys,” Stephenson said.
“I’m happy for him whatever he decides to do in his new journey. I know he will be successful and do well. He definitely will show that Damien pride, toughness and grit.”
Girls basketball coach Mark Arquero has a promising squad that has worked diligently through the offseason.
“I’m devastated. Eddie is a competitor at every level and just having him out there in your corner gives you extra confidence because of his charisma, energy and drive is infectious. As a fellow alumni, he’s always been a role model,” Arquero said. “I think his legacy is unmatched. He walked the walk when he was here as a student-athlete and he went on to show you can be successful at the next level. Then he came back and made an impact as a teacher, coach, director for the school, the students and the community. I’m forever grateful for all he’s done and want to wish him all the best in his next endeavors.
“Hopefully, the school can finish building a full football field on campus and we name it after him,” Arquero added.