By the dozens, from morning to afternoon, family and friends of Coach Willie Talamoa poured in.
By the end of service, there were still dozens of his fellow coaches and former players waiting to say goodbye one last time to the beloved mentor, coach, husband and father in Palolo Methodist Church.
Coaches and many of his former players from the Kalihi Disciples on up to the Farrington Governors expressed their love — and shock — when Talamoa died in late August. The mix of heartbreak and loss has many his former linemen grasping and reaching, not certain of what to do with their grief.
“He was a real inspirational guy, always about the young players,” said Ethan Muagututia, who was a defensive lineman with the Central Razorbacks when Talamoa was the position coach. “This is definitely heartbreaking. It hits so hard.”
Talamoa, 36, leaves behind a family that is still processing what happened to their popular and generous son, grandson, brother, uncle. His legacy will last, a generation of football players who were captured by their coach’s fun-loving nature, his pure passion for the game, for brotherhood.
Sooner rather than later, the hundreds of players impacted by Coach Talamoa will hit the dusty fields of Kalihi, coaching their sons and daughters, nephews and nieces. The spirit of Willie Talamoa will live on.