New Waianae coach Mike Fanoga has wealth of experience

New Waianae football coach Mike Fanoga played at UTEP in the mid-1980s and has coached at more than 10 different colleges. Photo courtesy Mike Fanoga.

New Waianae football coach Mike Fanoga has been around the block in college football and he has been a Hawaii resident for about eight years.

The list of coaching stops is a long one for the former UTEP player:

>> West Alabama
>> Iowa Wesleyan
>> Valdosta State (Georgia)
>> Kentucky
>> Western Kentucky
>> New Mexico State
>> Wyoming
>> Lane College (Tennessee)
>> Benedict College (South Carolina)
>> Virginia Union (two separate occasions)
>> Morgan State (Maryland)
>> Missouri Southern

And now he’s bringing his knowledge as a defensive assistant and sometimes coordinator to Waianae.

“I’ve been surrounded by older coaches who have taught me so much,” said Fanoga, who resides in Makakilo with his wife Soana (maiden name Tupua), who grew up in Hawaii and graduated from Brigham Young-Hawaii.

A year ago, when Fanoga was home during the offseason, he was unofficially helping coach Darren Hernandez at Kapolei and looking for a job and looking to make a change, possibly being at home full-time with his wife.

That search eventually turned into the Waianae job.

“This program has always been great,” Fanoga said about Searider Nation. “I used to recruit the area. I hit every school because you never know, you might find a diamond in rough. There’s always good players coming out of Waianae and the whole state.”

He won’t forget his first meeting with the Waianae players recently.

“They’re hungry and eager and willing to learn,” he said.

Fanoga is installing what he calls the “Dash” system — discipline, attitude, sacrifice and habits.

And of all of those, discipline is the most important.

“When we have team meetings, we don’t talk about football,” he said. “We talk about the life surrounding us. Yesterday, I told them football is secondary. What matters is being disciplined when you’re walking on campus, disciplined when you’re taking your hats off, disciplined when you talk to a teacher.”

Fanoga is going to be the defensive coordinator as well as the head coach and one of his former players, Robert Paulele, will run the offense.

When asked what type of offense Paulele with run at Waianae, Fanoga said coyly, “I don’t know. He keeps telling me he’s going to run the ball.”

He’s also trying to make sure the already tight Waianae football community continues to be that way.

“We invite the alumni back,” he said. “They are more than welcome to come to practice. Our coaches, we want them to bring their families, bring their kids on the field and let them know what they’re doing as coaches.”

Fanoga was glad to see about 25 to 30 players coming out this spring.

“The majority of the kids are in other sports — basketball, volleyball, track and wrestling,” he said. “I’m not complaining. The ones I’ve got right now are sponges and I’m really enjoying them. They’re great. They show up. I want to give them new ideas, new fresh ideas. I want it to be fun for the players and I want interaction. I don’t want them sitting there just saying ‘yes coach’ all the time.

“And I’ve been pleased with the coaching staff. They’re doing a good job, working their tails off every day. Committed and sacrificing their time.”

Fanoga said he was part of a couple of conference championships at Valdosta State and was part of Jack Harbaugh‘s staff when Western Kentucky won the Division I-AA national championship in 2002.

Waianae went 1-8, including 1-4 in the OIA Open Division, last year under coach Walter Young in his last of four seasons.


  1. Coach C March 16, 2019 12:27 pm

    Good luck coach. Let the pop warner buy into the program along with the coaches.

  2. C-Pop March 16, 2019 2:13 pm

    Best of luck Mike.

  3. Ldub Twenty March 16, 2019 6:09 pm

    I think Mililani has replaced Waianae as Kahuku’s biggest challenger in the OIA. If Fanoga can get Waianae to challenge those teams, it’ll be as big of an accomplishment as winning a state title.

  4. Ted March 17, 2019 12:40 pm

    Good luck with getem waiane. Love ther DASH mentality.

  5. Trustno1 March 18, 2019 5:07 am

    Good luck Coach! Lots of diamonds in the rough in Waianae! 808vsEverybody!

  6. Priscilla March 18, 2019 10:03 pm

    Good luck coach!

  7. Christopher Sullivan May 22, 2020 2:52 am

    Good luck coach from one of your former equipment managers at western Kentucky University.

  8. Charles E Cephus November 27, 2020 8:34 am

    Good Luck Coach!

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