You figure the chances are good that if you spend 28 years as an assistant coach at one school you just might eventually become a head coach there.
Well, that just happened in the offseason for Kui Kahooilihala, the new head football coach at Roosevelt. He takes over for Jeff Azuma, who needed to step down due to his job duties as a special education department head with the Deapartment of Education.
“I’ve been through four head coaches here, since 1985,” Kahooilihala told Hawaii Prep World on Tuesday. “I was with Jeff when he took over.”
Azuma actually had two stints as the Rough Riders’ head man — 2012 through 2015, when he went 8-26, and 1993 to 1995, when he went 11-17. Kahooilihala was with Azuma both times.
Kahooilihala played linebacker and tight end for the Rough Riders and he also played basketball for the school, where he graduated from in 1982. He has coached on both sides of the ball and was most recently Azuma’s defensive coordinator.
Kahooilihala was also an assistant under Rodney Iwasaki in the mid-1980s, Dale Asami from 1988 through 1992, and Lester Parilla from 1996 through 2008. Kahooilihala did not serve under head coach Pat Silva from 2009 through 2011.
“Jeff was so busy and it was taking up a lot of his time and it took a toll,” Kahooilihala said. “When Jeff told us he was leaving, everybody was like, ‘What?’ It took us by surprise. We thought he was going to do this for a while. He’s still helping out (coaching) with track.
“Because I’ve been with four head coaches and looking and seeing how they do things, I’ve picked up on stuff they’ve been doing. Being the head coach is sort of different, but it’s also kind of the same thing. The discipline part is the same, getting the kids on the same page.
“I’m pumped up and real excited for this year for the kids and the coaches. I’ve brought back some coaches who are alumni — a lot played for our school. They know the struggles we’ve been through. We don’t have big guys, but we have tough guys who are warriors and play 110 percent on every down. These coaches have been through it. They can tell these kids what the program is all about. Some of these guys have been on real good Roosevelt teams and some have been on Roosevelt teams that didn’t win a game but still gave 110 percent. We’re going to change the culture.”
There have been eight head coaching changes among the 45 Hawaii high school football teams since last season.
Hawaii’s new high school football head coaches for 2016:
>> Hilo: Kaeo Drummondo (for David Baldwin; Drummondo was interim head for most of 2015)
>> Kaiser: Arnold Martinez (for Cameron Higgins)
>> Kalani: Scott Melemai (for Greg Taguchi)
>> Kamehameha: Abu Maafala (for Doug Cosbie)
>> Kamehameha-Maui: Ulima Afoa (for Cody Nakamura)
>> Moanalua: Savaii Eselu (for Jason Cauley)
>> Radford: Lon Passos (for Fred Salanoa)
>> Roosevelt: Kui Kahooilihala (for Jeff Azuma)