Kale Ane is the new football coach at McKinley High School.
“I talked to Bob (Morikuni) and he said, ‘Congratulations.’ We talked this afternoon. I’m excited, looking forward to the opportunity,” Ane said of his new athletic director.
Ane has been with the Tigers for roughly a week in conditioning workouts while the school finalized details. He has around 40 players, varsity and junior varsity combined, training every day.
“We’re in conditioning mode, so I’m enjoying working with the kids. I got to meet and talk with families. It’s definitely different, but it’s fun working with kids, teaching them fundamentals,” he said.
Ane officially retired from his position as a Punahou co-athletic director and football head coach in late May. He was head coach of the Buffanblu for 21 seasons. Since taking over the football program in 1999, Punahou reached the state tournament final six times and won the championship twice. The Buffanblu defeated Leilehua, 38-7, in the 2008 final, and edged Mililani, 28-22, in the ’13 title tilt.
There was also controversy. Punahou is embroiled in an ongoing lawsuit involving allegations of sexual abuse by a former assistant basketball coach under Ane’s watch as co-AD.
Leonard Lau was named Punahou’s interim head coach in 2020 and Nate Kia was announced as head coach recently. Word circulated earlier in the year that Ane had applied for the football position at McKinley. He said he is prepared to face public scrutiny.
“You can’t try to disappear. You can’t just hide. That’s not something I want to do,” Ane said. “I can’t speak for other people. I can just talk with them, but the way you behave says a lot about a person. How you deal with adversity is something we always talk about .That’s important, so we’ll approach it as it happens. I’ve shared that with people who need to know. It’s an ongoing process so we’ll see.”
The former Michigan State and Kansas City Chiefs lineman has been open to input from family and close friends.
“I think my friends know what’s important to me. Being able to coach and be active is important. You do what you can. You move on and you do the best with what you have. The opportunity to do something you enjoy is now a reality, so they understand,” Ane said. “They just want to make sure I know what’s out there, what may happen, and am I prepared for that. That’s all we can do, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. That’s what all strive for.”
But there is no question that remaining in the public eye will draw attention to the ongoing lawsuit, and the repercussions include public comments on social media and websites.
“I don’t really read (comments), but I know my children and wife, and people close to me are very hurt by negative comments and things that people don’t know what really happened. You can’t ignore that, but you can’t live in fear. You can’t just hope it doesn’t happen. It’s always a possibility,” Ane said. “I know myself and what I did, and the people around me know. There’s always a yin and yang that goes with everything. You do the best you can with what’s out there.”
So Ane chose to be front and center, though McKinley football is less of a public focus than more prominent programs. Stepping back into coaching came with no hesitation.
“My dad (the late Charlie Ane)) is my hero and there are so many things I wanted to follow his footsteps in. He coached a small school, St. Anthony, on Maui. The year before he took over, they didn’t score a point. I was worried for him. He just loved it. He had a great time. He enjoyed working with the boys and with the families. I always thought that would be something I’d love to do when I retired and had the time,” Ane said.
“I learned a lot about McKinley in the process. My grandfather was a coach there in the 1920s. Neal Blaisdell is my grandfather. He won ILH championships in football and basketball. My sister, Malia, told me that. I said, where did that come from? I love challenges so we’ll see.”
The Division-II Tigers were 1-9 overall in 2019 under previous coach Pat Silva, who stepped down in 2020. In ’18, Silva led McKinley to a 4-5 overall mark. In three seasons, the Tigers were 6-21 under him.
Ane is taking it all one step at a time. Baby steps.
“We have a lot of young freshmen and kids who haven’t played at all before. A lot of first timers,” Ane said.
There is no distinct plan to operate a JV team. Maybe in ’22, Ane said.
“For this first year, we would probably keep them all together and coach them up, and see what happens. You never know with the numbers, academically and injuries. To be safe, we would combine them,” he said.
The Tigers make their debut under Ane in a scrimmage with Moanalua on July 30 at McKinley’s field. When Ane was playing for his alma mater, Punahou, public and private schools played together in the original version of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu.
“When I was in high school, we played in the old (Honolulu) Stadium. My sophomore year, McKinley had Ron Autele at quarterback. His son, Tasi, played at UH. Blessing Bird was the man. Chester Grey, they had a bunch of great players. They won or ‘Iolani won the title. Every team was good. Kaimuki was good. Kalani was good,” Ane recalled. “It was a lot of fun.”
Ane played for the Chiefs from 1975-80, and finished his NFL career with one year at Green Bay.
He coached under with father at Radford the following year.
“My dad was coaching there with Bobby Stephens after John Velasco passed away,” he said. “Then I had a chance to work with Mike Pavich at Punahou.”
After one year at his alma mater, Ane returned to Radford. Soon, he began a four-year stint as a scout with the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I was in the West region, at combines. It was a great experience talking to scouts and coaches,” he recalled.
But with a growing family, he returned to Oahu. He was the strength and conditioning coach at Hawaii during Dick Tomey’s final season.
“Then I was there under Wags (Bob Wagner) with Paul Johnson’s new offense. I had new mentors there and it was fun.”
Not long after that, he made his final return to Punahou as his father went from Punahou to UH.