Three days before the highly-anticipated start to its season, the Kahuku football team and community suffered a painful loss.
Longtime assistant football coach Pele Leiataua died Wednesday, according to his family. He was 66.
“Our players and community are saddened by the loss,” said Red Raiders head coach Sterling Carvalho, who will start his first season as the varsity head coach Saturday night at home against Konawaena. “He will be missed greatly. I love coach Pele and his heart was always for our kids in the community and players in our program. He served unconditionally and gave unselfishly.”
Leiataua was the JV quarterbacks coach, but he coached with Carvalho for a long time. He was Carvalho’s quarterbacks coach when Carvalho was former head coach Reggie Torres‘ offensive coordinator. He was also Carvalho’s JV quarterbacks coach when Carvalho was the JV head coach prior to this season.
“Our season will be dedicated to him,” Carvalho said. “Every year, I told him that as long as I’m coaching, he will always have a job coaching QBs in my program. He always gave of his time and touched the lives of many over generations. Our community is mourning his loss. He is loved and will be missed. So much as our team is excited to be ‘known’ this season, may coach Pele be known to all as a coach who loved his players and his players loved him.”
Pele Ioane Leiataua was born Nov. 3, 1951.
According to his sister, Nellie Leiataua, Pele died doing what he love best — coaching.
“He died of a massive heart attack,” she said. “Pele never went down without a fight. He was still able to carry on a conversation with my brother Johnny and I while he was having the attack.
“(As a kid), he wanted so much to play football for the Red Raiders, but he was too small so he became the best water boy and supporter instead.”
Leaiataua was a coach at Kahuku for more than 20 years.
“He may have been small in stature, but he had a heart of a giant,” Nellie Leiataua said. “My brother was a simple, humble guy who wanted no attention or accolades attached to his name. He was a pillar of our community and will be greatly missed.”