Nelson Maeda got three years worth of more relaxed football seasons.
Those days are over. Maeda, the former Castle and Kailua head coach, is the new Kalaheo head man. He believes he found the right fit.
“I had to give this situation a lot of hard thought,” he said. “One really big thing that had to fall in place for me to return to be a head coach was I did not want to be put in a situation where there was an administration that wasn’t going to be there with support. I had heard good things about Kalaheo and how they provide support. (Athletic director) Mark (Brilhante) has an extensive football background. He was a quarterback at Saint Louis in the ’80s. That makes a lot of difference. He understands team building. He knows what teams need. Those are big factors.
“And Kalaheo is in close proximity to where I work — five to seven minutes away, so if the need arises, I can be there in a short amount of time.”
Two of Maeda’s children went to Kalaheo and he has lived in the district for more than 50 years, so he has kept an eye on the Mustangs’ football program.
Maeda remembers many of the school’s coaches through the years — Fred Hilliard, Mel Pang (Maeda’s position coach at Kailua before becoming the head coach at Kalaheo), Darrell Smith, David Cosier, John Kawai, Chris Mellor, Tony Tuioti and more.
“Hilliard played at Syracuse with Jim Brown,” Maeda said. “He was quite an athlete.”
And, of course, Meada is looking forward to the challenge of building up a program that had its ups and downs under the outgoing Darrell Poole. The Mustangs were 0-10 last season and 5-5 the year before.
“It’s known more as a basketball and volleyball school,” he said. “But we’re going to work on getting the kids to cross-train and focus on playing more than one sport. Our goal is to try and increase participation and maintain program integrity and discipline. We want to build on Darrell’s foundation. There was no JV program. That’s rough with no feeder program. And the demographics have changed. The enrollment is down to around 700 or 800 now.
“We will be more flexible (while trying to build on Poole’s foundation) in establishing the culture and expectations. The goal will always to be competitive and instill character values. As an educator/coach, I feel strongly about that. We want to win and we want to win the right way. We’ll be firm but fair, and players who deserve to play will play. I always say you’ve got to bring your lunch pail to work and if you don’t work you don’t get paid. I’m elated, ecstatic about this opportunity. I wasn’t expecting the offer. I am happy to help mold these kids. It’s an immense challenge, but I know the administration and AD will be providing the village of support so necessary and needed.”
For the last three seasons, Maeda was an assistant for Wendell Say at Aiea.
“I really enjoyed that,” Maeda said, “After 20-odd years of being a head coach, there was much less responsibility. It was a nice change of pace. I helped as much as a could, but I had a lot of free time and flexibility.”
Maeda went 96-116-2 overall in 22 years as a head coach and led Castle to the 2002 OIA championship. He went 91-103-0 in 20 seasons with the Knights from 1997 through 2016 and 5-13-2 with Kailua in 1980 and ’81.