Keoke Behic is back as a Hawaii softball head coach. This time around, he’ll be guiding Kapolei.
Behic is the new Hurricanes coach, replacing interim head coach Stacie Mahoe, who was in charge of the Kapolei squad last season after Tony Saffery stepped down.
“The whole reason I even considered going to Kapolei is because I respect Tony Saffery,” Behic said by phone last week.
It wasn’t an easy decision. Behic spent the last three seasons as a Campbell assistant under Michael Hermosura, and if he stayed with the Sabers for the upcoming 2018 season, it would have been with his daughter Jade Behic — a junior who had a chance to be Campbell’s No. 1 pitcher.
But Jade Behic has transferred to Kapolei along with her dad and will sit out her junior season. She will be eligible in 2019 as a senior.
“With my wife and daughter, we talked about the pros and cons,” said Behic, who led Pearl City to the 2006 Division I state championship during his 13 years as a head coach with the Chargers. “My wife could see it in my face and voice that being a head coach is where my passion is. I loved my time at Campbell, my entire club team is at Campbell and that’s the reason why I went there from Pearl City.
“I’m at a comfortable place. My daughter is close to being committed somewhere (for college), I’ve helped 39 kids get to the next level and I feel like my work is done there. I’ve found a place where I think I can make a huge difference.”
Behic likes what he sees so far in the second city.
“I’ve been with the JV kids for about a month,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting this — the respectfulness, attitude and demeanor are so outstanding. I know we are going to be really successful with what we have. They are already open to feedback, no matter what I say. They try their very best and do it over and over again until they get it correct. No drama. They don’t fight each other or argue with each other. And I can say that the JV team is stellar.
“I didn’t come to Kapolei to lose. I came to win. I showed them the championship banners (OIA crowns in 2004, 2005 and 2016) and the koa trophy (2004 state title) in the gym just so they know that it is possible. The team has proved it over and over again that they can compete. I am very fortunate to have Tony around helping with the JVs. He’ll be going to the Big Island to help his daughter, Lani, the head coach at Kealakehe for the varsity season. I’m hoping he comes back to help us with the JV again next year. He built the legacy here and his presence is advantageous. The kids who have already bought into him are getting used to me. He’s more low-key.”