Treating Kahuku’s Coach Unfairly

Larry Price
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Wednesday - November 07, 2007
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Something happened to me on the road a couple of weeks ago that has been on my mind. It was one of those surprises that make you wonder if you are totally out of touch with reality.

I was sitting in the press box at Kahuku High School getting ready to broadcast the Kahuku vs. Farrington High School football game for Oceanic Cable 16. The stands were packed and the excitement was special. There aren’t many venues for high school athletics that can surpass Kahuku when it comes to school spirit and personal pride - especially the Kahuku High School football team, at the time the reigning state champions.

As the broadcast crew was doing its pre-game checks to ensure the technology was sound, I was approached by a mature, distinguished-looking Kahuku supporter who asked if I had time to talk to him. I said yes, and asked him to sit down and tell me what he had on his mind. To my amazement, he pulled out a clipboard with a petition on it. He asked me if I would be willing to sign it.

“What’s the petition asking for?” I asked.

“We want the football coach to be fired.”

I was floored. “For what?” I asked in a state of shock.

I read the petition and it basically charged that the coach was too strict, wouldn’t let the players do their famous haka dance before the games anymore and prohibited them from excessive celebration after scoring a touch-down. The petition had other charges based on the fact that the coach was a very stubborn individual.

The man asked me again, “Would you sign it for us?”

I said, “No, but if you bring me another petition requesting money to build a statue of the head coach, I would gladly sign it.”

The petitioner was disgruntled with my answer and left in a huff, but not before he commented, “You don’t understand.”

The truth of the matter is that after more than 30 years of coaching football, and more as a broadcaster, I do understand and it made me sad. Here’s a young guy, Reggie Torres, working around the clock at Kahuku, coaching his heart out for his school, and public bystanders, like me, have no idea of the internal problems he was facing.

News of the petition spread like wildfire because it was a shocking surprise for anyone outside of the Kahuku family and community to hear that there was anything but admiration for their head coach. The fact of the matter is, many of our isolated communities depend a lot more than they could imagine on the social cohesion a well-run athletic program can bring to their schools.

Part of the problem is that the success of the program is extraordinary, not only in football, but in the classroom and all other facets of the school’s co-curricular activities. Parents sometimes harbor expectations that are unreasonable. It is probably safe to say that there is not a high school coach who has not experienced the wrath of parental discontent.

All these unwarranted kinds of expectations distract from the educational objective of high school athletics. To his credit, Coach Torres rightfully said, “It was a learning experience for everyone. We are a better team now than before this issue came up.”

Obviously, I think that Kahuku is lucky to have Mr. Torres as a member of its faculty and staff. Some of the old-timers will remember Kahuku High School in its infancy when the coaches worked tirelessly hand-in-hand with community members and a host of dedicated administrators to make Kahuku High School “The Pride of the North Shore.”

Hopefully, the community will refocus on the educational objectives of their athletic program and realize how blessed they are to have so many dedicated individuals working with their children on and off the field.

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