Kamehameha releases hoops coach

Joe Cho Wil take over at Roosevelt. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser

Joe Cho‘s girls basketball team won a ton of games in his four seasons at Kamehameha.

He won’t be back for a fifth. Cho confirmed on Friday afternoon that he has not been retained as coach. Kamehameha was 17-6 overall in the recently completed season, including 8-5 in ILH play.

Cho met with Associate Athletic Director Keoni Haole recently for a postseason evaluation meeting and was told that the school and the coach would “go their separate ways.”

Bob Benham was the associate AD who hired Cho, but later retired.

“We had great understanding of the direction for the program,” Cho said. “(Haole) and I just didn’t see eye to eye.”

One of issues came in the offseason, when Cho was in the process of bringing in a new Intermediate coach.

“I had people in mind, season hadn’t begun yet. There was no deadline,” Cho said.

He said Haole wanted a quicker hire and wound up making the decision.

“I got a little upset and told him flat out that’s my job. I think that set the tone for rest of year,” Cho said.

Another issue surfaced during preseason when Cho kept some sophomores on the varsity team. A few of the JV assistants complained to Haole, who agreed with them that the 10th graders belonged on the JV team.

“I told him this is how it’s always been. I kept the sophomores and it didn’t go well with him,” Cho said. “He’d rather have them down there in JV playing than learning with me.”

Cho doesn’t have regrets about the disagreements. He said he respects Haole and the administration, and that parting ways was inevitable.

“I still think it would’ve happened even if we won ILH and state,” he said.

He already misses his players, including Star-Advertiser All-State selection Kalina Obrey.

“My assistant coaches said you owe it to Kalina to stick around for one more year,” he said of his mind-set before the evaluation meeting. “I walked out, I was at peace. I’ve done what I could do. We proved we could win up there. We were the only Oahu team that beat Maryknoll in four years. I think we had a shot to win it next year. ‘Iolani should be the favorite. Maryknoll will be good, and maybe Kamehameha. Kalina will always play hard.”

Cho hopes to have another chance to be a head coach next season.

“I’m for coaching and doing my best wherever I am,” he said. “I’ll look around.”


  1. Burgla March 23, 2018 8:21 pm

    Is this report true? Cho is pretty stubborn but he wanted to keep his job surely. Who’s next in line or will the ad handpick?

  2. ??? March 23, 2018 8:46 pm

    The head coach should decide who his assistant coaches should be and who plays varsity or JV not the Associate AD.
    Sounds like he should be in the Kahuku admin.

  3. Fan March 23, 2018 11:14 pm

    Mr. Haole is fair. As usual, there’s more to this story than what is being reported. Hope both sides come out for the better.

  4. Hmmm? March 24, 2018 6:53 am

    If Haole was fair, he would of let Cho hire his own Int. Coach and tell those JV Coaches to follow Cho’s directives. It is Cho’s program to run.

  5. eastside808 March 24, 2018 8:07 am

    As the head coach you want to see consistency in what is being taught on the intermediate and JV levels so that by the time the girls make varsity it is not about fundamentals, offensive and defensive schemes, it is about match ups and playing basketball.

  6. Basketball Player March 24, 2018 10:01 am

    It seems it is a matter of communication between Cho and Haole. If either communicated their intentions to each other, maybe both sides would of handled things in a more professional way.

    Let’s all remember, every decision made on every level should always be in the best interest of the student athletes and not based on ego or pride.

  7. Basketball Fan March 24, 2018 10:06 am

    I am disgusted that the JV coaches would complain or whine to the AD. There are 10th graders all over the state who are on the varsity team. Some play and some sit. The main thing is the 10th graders get to practice with the more talented kids at varsity.

    This is a clear breach of chain of command. If I was the next Kamehameha Coach I would not retain the JV coaches. They clearly do not have loyalty and do not understand how to be professional.

    I am guessing the JV coaches were not happy since both JV teams stunk even losing to Sacred Hearts who has never beaten Kamehameha at the JV level. Maybe focus on what you have instead of what you do not have and make those kids better. It’s clear the JV coaches severely underachieved this year based on Kamehameha’s standards.

    I think they should look into the mirror instead of pointing fingers.

    What a disappointing day for the school up the hill.

    On a side note, Coach Cho applied for the Mid Pacific Job. Unfortunately he did not get hired. Instead, Mid Pac choose interim head coach from last year, Lisa Russell. She is now the permanent head coach there.

  8. Bumbuchas March 24, 2018 10:15 am

    Another good one bites the dust. Who is this Keoni Haole? Micro managing? What is his athletic background? Is he familiar with Basketball? Was he in the same Administrative training class as Kahuku’s Admin? SMH. Good Luck Coach Cho, move on to greener pastures.

  9. Bumbuchas March 24, 2018 10:23 am

    Well, now we know why he applied for the Mid Pac position, who wants to work in that kind of Administrative environment. Agree with you Basketball Fan, it would appear the JV staff didn’t see the big picture and their role developing players for the Varsity level. Not about wins at that level but development. Sounds like they got a little selfish and questioned the HC’s decision as it impacyted their ability to win. Next JV Coaches up!

  10. :) March 24, 2018 12:14 pm

    This is not the whole story…………..Cho has been made to look like the good guy but really he is unpredictable and has yet to understand the talent of his girls!!!! Let’s see evaluations from players that tell the real truth to his coaching. This news is the best thing that happened to Kamehameha’s girls basketball program.

  11. !!!!!!!!!!!! March 24, 2018 1:33 pm

    This is definitely not the FULL story! #bullying #horriblecoach

  12. Half sided story March 24, 2018 2:47 pm

    Hard to see the whole picture when it’s a one sided story. If your JV coaches are complaining then there must have been other reasons. Most JV coaches want the better kids to go up to varsity. Maybe the favoritism with the sophomores? If someone could shed some light on the real issue the JV coaches were not happy with sophomores going to varsity??? But just from reading the article there is one thing the is evident, this coach did not work with admin, plus you weren’t communicating with the JV coaches already. Really sounds like this guy wanted to do what he wanted to do. Coaches forget that it’s a JOB and just like your other job if you decide not to follow your employers request, you get fired.

  13. Basketball Fan March 24, 2018 2:57 pm

    I look at science and data. Over the past 2 years, Kamehameha was 2nd in the ILH and then 3rd in the ILH with one state appearance. They beat Maryknoll when no one other than 4 time defending champs Kona could.

    Coach Cho’s record is top 3-4 in the state over the past 2-3 years. This year Iolani beat them out for the ILH’s second berth in state. However, his best player Obrey was out for much of the season. And when she came back, her injury was still lingering. When Obrey was healthy this past year I believe Kamehameha was undefeated with a win over Iolani.

    Everyone is going to complain and say the coach didn’t do this and that. That is what many people do when their daughter or child doesn’t play. It’s never the kids fault for not being good enough or not working hard enough. It’s always the coach’s fault. And on the hill we know the parents love to complain.

    Now we also know that the coaches (JV in this instance) also like to complain.

    Coaches, stay far away!

  14. hahaha March 24, 2018 2:58 pm

    This is not the whole story – just ask past player’s.

  15. Truth March 24, 2018 3:07 pm

    This is Cho’s side of the story. In truth Cho was a terrible coach. Didn’t use his talent correctly, was out coached in every game, played mind games with the girls, the list goes on and on. His win/loss record is a testament to the players who won despite the inadequacy of the coach. This is NOT a case of cry baby parents and players or micro managing administration. Cho was not a good coach period! Ask any of the girls who played under Cho and see what they say. Thank you Mr. Haole for clearing the slate. Now we can bring in a real coach and take a shot at a state title.

  16. Fan March 24, 2018 4:34 pm

    Some of you say coach Cho was the only coach to beat Maeyknoll other than Kona. Well, maybe he should’ve beat them more than once with the talent he has had. Winning games isn’t the only concern when coaching at the high school level.

  17. Basketball Fan March 24, 2018 5:34 pm

    @ Truth, what makes you know more than Coach Cho? What would yo do differently? Where did you coach so we can compare your resume with Coach Cho? Easy to come on a board and say what you would do. Since the position is open why don’t you apply. And with all that talent, then it should be easy for you to win states next year right?

    Sounds like your kid got cut or ride bench. Can you let your kid live their life? It’s so sad that people have to bad mouth innocent coaches on a blog.

    Maybe instead of using your free time to blog, maybe take your kid to the park or gym to work out? Maybe hire a professional to help your kid improve. Then maybe your kid’s game would improve and you can cheer and be happy instead of spending your time insulting someone behind a fake name.

    That’s tragic.

  18. Basketball Fan March 24, 2018 5:36 pm

    @ Fan, why don’t you apply and show us how it’s done?

  19. Know your Facts March 24, 2018 5:48 pm

    People don’t know the whole story here. If anyone has watched the Kamehameha girls play in the past 4 years Cho was coaching, they’d know how he did not know how to use the abundance of talent he had on his team. They shouldnt have just “beat Maryknoll”, they should have won states every year.

  20. Fan/parent/coach March 24, 2018 6:09 pm

    @ Mr basketball fan if u don’t no then go find out 1st b4 opening ur mouff… U must be a fan of his luzzing ways n system, ur so called hero coach also brought his great coaching system to McKinley where it FAILED from winning seasons to WAY under. 500 % ohh n das FOOTBALL n BASKETBALL… So on that note please find out da FACTS 1st then u can say your peace until then SSSHHHHH n keep ur comments 2 yourself.. KBYE

  21. Bumbuchas March 24, 2018 6:09 pm

    Awesome Basketball Fan! Ditto! Coach Cho should have fired the JV Coaches right there for breach of loyalty. Let the Players play, let the Coaches coach, and let the parents cheer! not Whine! Parents, please submit your resume for the Head Coaches position, should be posted soon. One can match wits / strategy vs Batoon, Matsuda, Grant & company.

  22. Truth March 24, 2018 6:30 pm

    @Basketball Fan, Take it easy tough guy! Usually I don’t get into online discussion so I’ll reply once and leave it alone.

    First of all I never claimed to be the best coach in the world. Unfortunately criticism comes with the job and you cannot please everyone. Was I too harsh in my comments about Cho? Maybe. Should you criticize me for that? By all means feel free. But to say I should spend more time training my kid is wrong because it has nothing to do with my statement. You don’t know me or what I do with my kids.

    Have you spoken to people in the program? Cause I have! Do you know the things that were done to and said to the players? Cause I do! Have you spoken to current and former players about how they feel about the coach? Stars and bench players? Cause I have! Have you spoken to people from McKinley about how Cho is regarded while he was their football coach? Cause I have!

    You sound like a keyboard warrior! Safe to write whatever you feel and if somebody has a different opinion then you want to try and intimidate them.

    You call me out for a fake name? I’m pretty sure your parents didn’t name you Basketball Fan. Clown!

  23. Ho bro, you don't even know March 24, 2018 7:07 pm

    Wow, this amazes me the amount of people who have no idea what the past 4 years were like behind the curtains. This article barely scratches the surface. It baffled people when they decided in the first place to hire a football coach to be the head of the basketball program.

    The first line of the article made me laugh. I guess whoever wrote this forgot the year he won just 1 game.
    There were instances where his tryouts had girls getting injured because he wanted to focus so much on ONE thing, where even the athletic trainer was wondering what was going on and why are all these girls coming to them with the same injury.

    Former AD retired? No your article is wrong. He magically became Joes assistant while others who were in line got booted out.

    Theres much much more to the story, unfortunately only 1 side is being told.

  24. Eastside4Life March 24, 2018 7:28 pm

    The truth of the matter is, the administration believed he knew more about the program rather than letting his head coach lead the program like he had been doing for the past few years, to fairly good success. To say that past and current players would say he’s a horrible coach is simply untrue. Many parents and players would have nothing but nice things to say about him. Is he tough? Yes. Does he expect a lot of the players? Yes. Can he come off as harsh at times? Sure. But life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I’ve always believed that playing sports is a great preparer for real life, as it teaches you to be tough, a team player and to think on your feet. Parents can’t keep babying their kids or complaining when something they don’t like happens.

    Coach Cho coached for decades on the mainland, where the style of coaching is much different than that of the islands. As someone who has experienced both; Mainland high school coaching, administrators and overall programs are light years ahead of those in Hawaii. For the simple fact that on the mainland, coaches, administrators, players and parents all understand their roles and have an overall respect for one another. Cho was a well respected and successful coach on the mainland who has coached hundreds of kids, most of which would sing his praises as would theirs parents. The problem with a lot of Hawaii parents is they believe their child is the next Marcus Mariota or Lebron James, and if a coach doesn’t believe in that too or doesn’t give their kid enough playing time…then that coach is “bad”. Maybe you should have trust in the coach when they tell you that your child needs time to learn before they play more? Especially when that coach has been coaching for nearly 40 years?

    Coach Cho was and still is a great Coach. Good luck to the next Kamehameha coach; hope you’re okay with doing whatever administration says. And to parents who complain? Remember what they say before the game: “let the coaches coach, the players play and the refs ref”.

  25. Basketball Fan March 24, 2018 7:59 pm

    Truth is getting angry. Usually the truth upsets people. It’s clear that you are upset that your kid got cut or doesn’t play.

    Sure you talked to a lot of people (wink wink). I talked to people too. And the ones I talked to are VERY happy with their child’s experience.

    Once again, so tragic that you hide behind a fake name and insult a man who is practically coaching for free.

    And to show your ignorance you are trying to compare myself calling you out while you hide behind a fake name to you calling out Coach Cho.

    If you think that is the same, it’s very funny. And very uneducated.

    So like I said, let you daughter live her life. STOP trying to live your high school life through her. And since you failed your child, don’t take it out on an innocent bystander. Leave Coach Cho alone. Last time I checked he has like 30-40 more wins than you do. And playing 2K18 on your PS4 doesn’t count, big guy!

  26. Warrior4Life March 24, 2018 8:16 pm

    I’m an alumni of KS and have 2 kids that graduated. I had spent 8 years watching my kids play sports at KS. KS has a lot of talent to pick from with over 1600 kids in high school. In my opinion, the Athletic Directors have been making many questionable coaching choices over the years. So when things like this happen lets not blame the coaches, blame the AD’s.

  27. Basketball Fan March 24, 2018 8:55 pm

    Let’s set the record straight. Bob Benham’s wife became a high level official at UH West Oahu. I believe it was in athletics. Due to a conflict of interest with Bob being the AD at KS, he elected to retire last year. Please get your guys info correct when accuse a writer (Paul Honda) of providing incorrect information.

  28. Basketball Fan March 24, 2018 9:24 pm

    Change was needed and they let the right people go!! Imua e Kamehameha!

  29. joe kaaekuahiwi March 25, 2018 2:11 am


  30. Basketball Fan March 25, 2018 8:39 am

    @Marisa, can you authenticate that you are a parent? Or are you just another person with a hidden agenda? Kid doesn’t play, must be the coach’s fault. It’s never the kids or parents fault. Same tired story.

    Anyone can come on here and throw names. It isn’t true until it’s authenticated. You have as much credibility as I do, which is zero since we are not using our real names on a blog.

    It’s unfortunate that your feel the need to come on a blog and bad mouth someone who cannot even defend himself.

    But great example you are setting for your “daughter” as you tell us.

  31. IMUA March 25, 2018 9:52 am

    @ Marisa

    Being a parent of a KS boys varsity basketball player, I’ve heard first hand of the complaints from parents of Cho and his assistant coaches. When the news was released before this article came out, a few of the girls basketball parents commented that they were waiting for this to happen a long time ago. I don’t claim to know exactly what was going on, all I can say is a lot of parents weren’t happy with Cho for many years.

  32. Satisfied Parent March 25, 2018 10:18 am

    All the best to Coach Cho, change was needed!! GrEAT job to the Athletic Department who listened!

  33. Player of Cho March 25, 2018 11:12 am

    I was a player for Cho and for all you outsiders, this article makes him sound like the good guy. Bob Benahm kept cho hired even after multiple parents filed him. All the players evaluations showed the truth in how bad of a coach he was. During practices he never scrimmaged and the team didn’t grow much chemistry on the court. The only reason we went to states that one year was because we had a great leader like mikiala maio including a strong supporting cast with Jewel Paaluhi-Caulk, Kalina Obrey, and Kiana Vierra. With that talent we could’ve done much more. Then the next year, this past year, there should have been no way that this team never make states! We were the only team that got close to maryknoll in season. We had a team full of talent and yet cho couldn’t pull it off. He ran the flex all game and that didn’t help what talent he had on his team. He does not recognize that. A team like that needs to run. They need to spread the floor. They can all beat their defender off the dribble and yet all he wants to do is run a play. Trust that all these great stats that yall are reading come from the players. These coaches didn’t understand a damn thing with the girls and they got where they were because they took things into their own hands. They were destined to do much greater things and sadly cho just didn’t deliver. The only reason he stayed that long was because Bob Benahm backed him up. Thankfully the new athletic director saw the truth.

  34. Kamehameha March 25, 2018 2:22 pm

    Best decision KS athletic department ever made, read Player of Cho, she states it right on the nose, horrible coach, all that talent this past year and can’t even make states , so sad for the seniors, I know alot of the parents they wanted this coach out a while ago, best move the athletic department did, because next year they got some talent to be a good team, bring back Daryl Imanaka or hire Mike Taylor, they would fit right in.

  35. Former Player March 25, 2018 4:58 pm

    As a former player I can only speak for myself and my circle of friends that consists of 4 others who played for Coach. We, and especially I loved playing for Coach Cho. We made states and were often competitive. We enjoyed practices and being around the coaches and other players. We felt proud representing the school. I for one am very disturbed that so many of my friend’s parents complain. It is like they think they can do a better job. Coach did a lot for all of us. He helped me with some academic stuff. He had study halls to help us keep up with school. His door was always open if we needed advice. These people on here make like Coach used foul language, spanked us, or grabbed us butts. None of that ever happened. I enjoyed my former coach. I hope the adults making up lies can grow up and focus on their own lives.

  36. roughriders99 March 25, 2018 5:24 pm

    I read over and over about Coaches being let go because of administration or parents not happy or coaches don’t know what they’re doing. I am really thinking of putting together a team to form a UNION for Hawaii high school coaches of ALL sports. Whoever feels like these coaches need a Union Representative please feel free to comment.

  37. some info March 25, 2018 9:24 pm

    Agreed, this is getting ridiculous. I really enjoyed FORMER PLAYER comment and how much coaches put into academics too and maybe some players need that and perhaps your daughter is good with it, sometimes others need that. Funny when school coaches no teach the same way your club coach teach than they suck and gotta get rid of him?! Anyway, he put in time and hard work for other peoples children and so whatever mine or any other opinions are about coach at least thanks for the effort and appreciate it!

    here is more info for roughriders99 comment


  38. Billy Hull March 25, 2018 9:58 pm

    Comments disabled.

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