Kahuku hires Tata as football coach

In case you missed it in the Star-Advertiser breaking news section, Kahuku has hired Vavae Tata as its new head football coach.

Tata has some tough shoes to fill. Lee Leslie, who took over for Reggie Torres last year, went 9-3 with an OIA Red division title. Kahuku lost to state champion Mililani in the OIA final and advanced to the state semifinals before losing to Punahou by a field goal after holding a fourth-quarter lead.

Torres went 11-2 and won a state title in his first year at Kahuku in 2006, replacing Siuaki Livai. Livai went 2-5 in his first season at Kahuku in 1996 but never had another losing season over the next nine seasons.

Tata was hired as the defensive line coach at Vanderbilt in January of 2014, but was arrested for DUI a month later and was moved into a non-coaching role as an assistant in player development. Tata was also charged with felony DUI in 1997 as a student at UCLA after an accident in which he and two others were injured.

Tata got the job over the other finalists that were David Te’o (Kamehameha assistant, former Kahuku assistant), Sterling Carvalho (Kahuku assistant, former Waialua assistant) and Asai Gilman (executive director of Education 1st).

Other applicants for the job included Livai; Kahuku assistant Tommy Heffernan Sr.; Kamehameha assistant and former Kahuku assistant Byron Beatty; Kapolei assistant, former Kailua coach and former Kahuku assistant Darren Johnson; Kahuku junior varsity head coach James Kammerer (who held the title of interim varsity head coach until Tata’s hire); and former Dixie State head coach Greg Croshaw.


  1. RedAlert293 April 21, 2015 8:32 am

    Our boys will be ready to battle no matter who the HC is and I know for sure our returning defense will be one of the best units kahuku has seen in recent years.

  2. education first April 21, 2015 9:24 am

    Great hire!

  3. education first April 21, 2015 9:26 am

    Hopefully the coach can help change the culture and improve on these dismal scores.

    Football is an EXTRACURRICULAR activity. The smart play is school and education.

    STRIVE HI results:
    Math Proficiency: 44%
    Reading Proficiency: 70%
    Science Proficiency: 21%
    11th Grade ACT: 28%
    College Going Rate: 61%

  4. red x April 21, 2015 9:37 am

    @education first do you know what is a football coach is? Or the game of football? Lol

  5. education first April 21, 2015 10:02 am

    @ red x, it is that kind of mentality that set up the children for failure in the classroom and often life. It may seem you are laughing on the outside, but on the inside you are really hurting. It is evident by turning a serious matter into a laughing one (by your standards).


  6. red x April 21, 2015 11:28 am

    @education first you too funny man! I guess to be successful in school is from your head coach. Hahaha

    U probably mad at Kahuku for some reason…auwe

  7. Leialoha808 April 21, 2015 12:10 pm

    Its not the responsibility of the head coach to improve students grades, do these young athletes not have parents that push the academics? Are the teachers and principal doing their part in supplying the students with sufficient resources to succeed?

  8. education first April 21, 2015 12:18 pm

    I am furious at the community. You are right! I am furious that they have these kinds of scores and many of the kids have limited life options because of it.

    Unfortunately you are not angry and are not intelligent enough to see the connection.

    If the families put as much passion as who they choose as the coach into how their kids are taught, maybe a change would happen. It’s unfortunately that your thinking is so microscopic that you cannot see the connection and think this is only about a “football coach.”

    But then again, you don’t seem to have taken “education first.”

  9. 007 April 21, 2015 12:35 pm

    No matter who the coach is and no matter what the situation is kahuku has stepped up the education. For all the people who think that kahuku’s education is not good the kids have to have a 3.0 to play football.

    No matter who the coach kahuku still sasa everybody.

  10. redalert293 April 21, 2015 2:00 pm

    @education first,

    The football program has always been thriving and the most dominant in the past 20 years, yes even more successful then the million dollar private schools in Honolulu. That tells me that our community of football coaches, fans and players know a little something about success enough for Punahou and St. Louis to notice and start recruiting our top talented and top educated athletes out of the community. What does that leave Kahuku with? minus 10 athletes every year that are going to college via Punahou/St.Louios/Kam then from their own district of Kahuku. That’s how our results get skewed for the worse.

    Do you know why these kids are choosing to play sports at private schools? not because our sports programs are terrible but because the education and school itself is terrible and that falls on the faculty and staff of the school and people like yourself who say education is important but are doing nothing about it but put blame on a football program that is excelling at teaching the kids FOOTBALL.

    Hows about you put your money where your mouth is and get in there and do what you list as your screen name…education. Just like our popwarner football program that starts training kids ages 8-14 on the sport of football why dont you start a “popwarner” education tutor program and start tutoring 100’s of kids 8-14yrs old on your free time! or are you too busy?!

    Some people are so negative that they look at the glass half empty rather then half full and instead of being a part of the solution they are a part of the problem.

    I think you should appreciate and recognize that those 5-10 football players every year that leave Kahuku to play at private schools and then to D1 colleges are products of our popwarner program. What do our adult volunteer coaches get out of it? nothing, just the love for the kids and the game.

  11. Lady Hoopster April 21, 2015 4:52 pm

    I find this pretty funny. @ redalert293 isn’t education first talking about poor scores and not having the same passion in the classroom as on the field? I am thinking they are talking about the whole group instead of a select few. Scores don’t lie do they?

  12. redalert293 April 21, 2015 7:41 pm

    Lady Hoopster, you need to look at the whole picture.

    1. A certain percent of the boys on the JV and Varsity football teams are not even athletes, these students have a very low desire for school and sometimes even life in general, The coaches and uncles involved with football realize that its better for the kid to be part of a team rather then floating around making trouble or even dropping out of school. A team environment of bonding and encouragement can help build just enough confidence to get these kids graduated from school …and yes these “project” kids do get bad grades and because our coaches have compassion and accept them into the football program those overall test scores are going to be affected. The football team does not cut any kid that trys out for the team, we have almost 90 kids every year but only 25-30 actually get playing time on the field. Imagine if we were a sport like basketball that can only roster a limited amount of players, in basketball that number is 15 and football it would be about 40 which would basically weed out all the stragglers, but no, football accepts any and all students even girls.

    2. Once again as I said in my previous post there are 5-10 football players every year that leave kahuku to play at private schools. These kids have to qualify academically to get in to those “prestigious” private schools so you know they have plenty of smarts to help out the test scores had they stayed and played for kahuku. The reason I bring this group of kids up is because they all were born and bred to play for Kahuku, they want to play for kahukus rich tradition but along the way the parents and these students are pushed away for one reason or another. Here is a good example…Reggies last year of coaching 4 kids moved to the mainland, I do not know what “pushed” them away. The next year when Reggie was released and a new coach came in those 4 plus a few more kids came back to Kahuku to play. This year with our new head coach Tata three kids from St.Louis are coming back to play for kahuku, I dont know what pushed them away to begin with but this is some of the issues that our principal is trying to figure out…not only how to raise the test scores of the current players but about retention and keeping our smart athletic homegrown ballers to play at the home school that they always dream of playing for.

  13. Good Story April 21, 2015 7:46 pm

    As I mentioned in the previous forum, I find it extremely naive to blame all those “dismal scores” on a relatively small percentage of the entire Student Body population. Those stats provided, are they exclusively for football players? I think not. Seems to me as if some of you are blaming all our academic woes on the football program.

    Unless anyone can cite specific evidence that passion for football results in lower scores….or that lack of passion for football equals higher scores, please stop using our football program as a scapegoat for bigger issues of our education system.

    Education First, you sound like someone that has read 1984 by George Orwell. Go back and read it again-what you’re advocating for sounds really familiar.

  14. Lady Hoopster April 22, 2015 6:18 am

    That is a fair point @redalert. But if the kids are uninterested in school, don’t you think that starts off in the home at an early age?

    As for the drunk driving that everyone talks about. It isn’t good and hopefully the coach learned this time.

  15. education first April 22, 2015 9:09 am

    So many excuses why they don’t achieve. If you need to use football to inspire the kids to work hard then that’s quite sad. Let me make it clear, it is not the kids’ fault. But at some point the adults surrounding the kids have failed them.

    I have no problem with using an incentive such as sports, arts, or dance to inspire the kids to become more motivated. But sadly the family unit around these kids have failed them if it needs to come down to this at the age of 14-18.

    @goodstory, yes the scores are bad and yes the football team are a small percentage of the scores.

    However, it’s the culture and mentality I am talking about. People talk about how an alum should be hired. That’s the problem. Many out there think the same.

    I find it pathetic that you continue to make excuses instead of finding a solution. But then again, that’s why the problem exists. There are people like you who are more interested in saying it’s not us, or continue to make excuses, instead of getting to the root of the problem.

    I am confident that many of these football players are ones who are represented by the Strive HI numbers. If you understood statistics and data, you would agree too.

  16. fwammer April 22, 2015 10:09 am

    Go home cook rice already!lmao..Everyone is right so let’s do something about,start fresh,get to the root,which is the home and start educating them and make it a community education first program!! Boom kanani!!!

  17. Recruiter808 April 22, 2015 10:45 am

    How does Kahuku’s Strive HI numbers compare with other Public schools around the State? Are other areas of Hawaii also pathetic in their excuse making when it comes to Education First? Do they have problems with the culture and mentality in their community or is this just a problem out in Kahuku?

  18. Good Story April 22, 2015 10:48 am

    Education First,

    I understand statistics and data…I also know when they’re being manipulated to forward a false narrative.  According to statistics and data…I’m obese.  I don’t feel obese…should I just take their word for it?  But according to statistics, at 6’1″ and 241 lbs. so is Manti Teo.   At 6′ 3″ and 222 lbs Marcus Mariota is considered overweight, 20 pounds from being obese as well.  Any sane person would dismiss those claims as absurd.  I’ve recently seen Manti around the community-the guy is a an amazing physical specimen.

    So easy to pick on the football team…it continues the age old stereotype that football players are dumb…not to mention the just beneath the radar myth that both Manti and Marcus have worked hard to dispel…that Polynesians are dumb.  I’m so tired of it.  Why don’t we pick on the band, or vocal motion, or any other extra curricular…oh! It’s because their not the dumb ones.  Killing me!

    Here are real solutions:
    1.  Year round school
    2.   Improve Teacher to Student ratio-we’re especially not doing so well here
    3.   Higher pay for teachers to keep quality educators home and attract from abroad but then…
    4.   Consistent testing of our teachers to ensure they maintain a high level of performance.
    5.   How bout getting rid of our PE program and dedicate that to more math and science help.

    These are real solutions that address the ENTIRE student population which would be more beneficial to what you are claiming is your true aim here. But i don’t buy it.  You seem content standing on your soap box lecturing us on how much more smarter you are while addressing some personal vendetta against the football program.  

    My bad fwammer…I going cook rice right now. I’m done.  

  19. 007 April 22, 2015 12:46 pm

    Why don’t you all just leave the kids out of your conversation and let them prove them selves cause all this yap about making excuses about our kids is wrong. Go talk about some other school cause apparently kahuku is not the only school like that.
    Education first don’t be jealous. You need to worry about your own kids and if you don’t have any then don’t talk.

  20. rrfl April 22, 2015 1:13 pm

    yeah, amen to that 007. that’s enough already!! We are just happy to have a coach.

  21. 008 April 22, 2015 6:40 pm

    Rajah! That 007, education first needs to put his money where his mouth is, or shhhh!

  22. education first April 23, 2015 7:31 am

    @ goodstory, this is easy to solve, much more than your solution. Their parents need mroe passion about academics. I’ts plain and simple. Explain to me how the Asians came to Hawaii as plantation workers, and culturally that ethnic group has thrived. When they first came they were poor workers. They continued to work hard and buy land to improve their lives. Remember, banks would not give Asians loans, so they had to save and continue to work and save. It’s culture, plain and simple….

  23. rrfl April 23, 2015 7:45 am


    really, are you that unhappy with your life. leave it alone already. So many haters. Go play golf or something.

  24. red x April 23, 2015 8:22 am

    Education first is just jealous of how good Kahuku can be if we had the right coaches! Don’t be too hard on him because he seems to be hurting inside

  25. 007 April 23, 2015 10:26 am

    Aww @education first you need a hug.

  26. education first April 23, 2015 1:59 pm

    I am upset that white and Asians have prospered both intellectually and monetarily while many people out there live in poverty and have poor academics? You might want to rethink what you just said.It’s just unfortunate that all these posters fail to admit there is a HUGE academic problem. Instead they want to deflect or camouflage it with insults. Well if they are happy with low academics, higher than normal crime levels, and a decent amount of people on welfare, then so be it.

  27. rrfl April 23, 2015 2:19 pm

    Really from a simple kahuku hiring a new football coach to academic problems, crime levels and welfare? maybe you need to run for governor.

  28. Good Story April 23, 2015 4:10 pm

    There you go again Education First…trying to perpetuate more lies. There are more White People receiving welfare checks than any other race. You can verify it through the Department of Agriculture that monitors SNAP benefits.

    And now back to cooking rice…

  29. hahashanda April 23, 2015 8:23 pm

    @education’s point about why people dont take the next coach as seriously as they do checking on their kids history day or science projects? However, the problem with what @education is saying is that he is blaming the wrong people (the teachers will pass anyone, its up to the kid to want to learn more). IMO the responsibility is as follows. 1. The KID, 2. The Parent, Thas it folks. Its the two of them (Not the Coach, Teacher, or Admin) that determine what the kid will do after high school. If your a HS kid and think you will cruise around; hanging with friends for life. See what your doing in 10 years from now, 15 years from now. The vast majority will wish they listened more intently in that ‘boring class’ they had. You don’t believe me, better ask somebody.

  30. Polo April 23, 2015 10:29 pm

    @education first is just angry he didn’t get the job… The Chinese did good because they knew the western ways of business before they came to Hawaii or Samoa. Do your research and go home cook rice!! The Polynesians didn’t know the concept of money, but the Chinese knew the western ways ! Go home cook 10 cup rice we coming over to eat! Peace and nuff already. …

  31. education first April 27, 2015 8:15 am

    No the Asians did good because they work hard. And no I wouldn’t want to coach Kahuku if I had to deal with adults like you, @polo

  32. 008 April 27, 2015 9:56 am

    I also read an article where the Chinese who are hard workers that knew the value of money and the western ways. So I see 2 sides of Polo and Education first. But I think education first would of been a great coach if he surrounded himself by good kahuku alumni coaches. Good Luck To Tata and hopefully he doesn’t bring in all st.lst.louis guys,because eventually they will fade away. It’s because their heart isn’t in it…

  33. Too Bad April 27, 2015 7:00 pm

    @008….It’s a little to late. Last news out of kahuku was that all current staff was let go, maybe will be retained for j.v. staff.

  34. 008 April 28, 2015 11:02 am

    @too bad,yes I’ve heard that they released the staff , which is fine..we got alot of talented coaches there that wasn’t on the staff, but it’s going to take him 2 to 3 yrs before the staff really gels together . By then sky’s the limit, but I think next year’s team will surprise alot of people so again I wish coach Tata and the red raiders the best of luck…he will find out the love our people have for Kahuku RRFL..

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