Friday, March 20, 2015

Lee Leslie resigns as Kahuku coach

[5/19/15] John Hao and Gerald Welch join Tata's staff

[4/22/15] Tata stops by to see Junior Ah You

[4/21/15] Vavae Tata, a former All-State player at Saint Louis and an assistant at Vanderbilt University, will be named the new Kahuku football coach, according to sources close to the school.

The sources said the school administration picked Tata over four other finalists recommended by a selection committee. Although he did not confirm Tata as the selection, vice principal Ikaika Plunkett said Kahuku will announce the new coach Tuesday morning.

Tata was an All-State defensive lineman for the Crusaders in 1992 and '93. He will leave his post as an assistant in player development for the Commodores. He previously held assistant coaching positions at UCLA, Stanford and San Jose State, as well as McKinley High School.

He was a defensive lineman for UCLA from the 1994 to '98 seasons, capping his career in the 1999 Rose Bowl.

Among the other finalists were Kamehameha assistant David Te'o, a former Kahuku assistant; Kahuku assistant Sterling Carvalho; and Asai Gilman, executive director of Education 1st.

About 30 applied for the job, including Siuaki Livai, who won four state titles as Kahuku head coach; Kahuku assistant Tommy Heffernan Sr.; Kamehameha assistant and former Kahuku assistant Byron Beatty; Kapolei assistant, former Kailua coach and former Kahuku assistant Darren Johnson; and Kahuku junior varsity head coach James Kammerer; and former Dixie State head coach Greg Croshaw.

Kahuku selected Tata despite a troubled past that includes two drunk driving arrests, most recently in Tennessee in February 2014.

According to a 2014 Associated Press article, Tata's penalty was the loss of his license for a year, 48 hours in jail and a suspended sentence.

Also, in 1997, while still a student at UCLA, Tata was charged with felony DUI after an accident in which he and two others were injured.

Tata will replace Lee Leslie, who coached the Red Raiders last season before returning to Idaho to spend more time with his family. The team went 10-3 and made it to the state semifinals.

[3/20/15] After one year at the helm, Lee Leslie has left the Kahuku football program.

Leslie submitted his resignation from Idaho on Thursday morning. He flew back home last Friday for spring break after handing out the program's practice calendar through the rest of the year. He intended to return, but realized that time with his family was too precious. He left his wife home while coaching the team last year.

"I just chose my family," Leslie said. "I was away from them for 257 days and I never thought I could do that. I loved my time at Kahuku and I feel strongly about the support system there, those kids are second to none in the country."

Leslie spent a single season at Kahuku, taking over for Reggie Torres, who won successive state titles in 2011-2012 before slipping to 6-5 in 2013 and missing the state tournament.

The Red Raiders went 9-3 last year, losing to Kaiser, Mililani and Punahou. Kahuku won the OIA Red regular-season title and made it to the OIA championship and state semifinals.

When he was hired, Leslie said that Kahuku principal Pauline Masaniai told him that his primary job was improving the team's academic standing. Leslie leaves behind a refurbished locker room complete with names of all of the All-State players on the walls, cleaned up facilities and a program that sent five seniors to major colleges and another seven to junior colleges. Leslie says he will be helping the program from afar if allowed.

"Kahuku will put 14 kids in college again next year," Leslie said. "I don't know what the future holds, only that any decision on my next job will be made with family in mind first, but I will take three weeks out of the year to make sure those (Kahuku) kids get the opportunities they deserve."

"It's a surprise. I thought he was going to come back," junior defensive back Keala Santiago said. "I knew that he missed his family. We're ready for whatever comes next. We've been with each other as teammates since we were little, so we're used to each other."

The players won't know who their head coach will be, but Leslie has his hopes for the program and believes his staff is more than capable of carrying on. He intends to return next year for a Kahuku home game.

"I am crossing my fingers and hoping that Ma'ake Kemoeatu can step up and take the job," Leslie said. "He is the greatest player to come through Kahuku and he is exactly the role model those kids need. The job screams for a local person who knows the culture and he is perfect."

Torres will probably be in the discussion after he was fired to open a spot for Leslie and still helps out with the Kahuku wrestling team. But Torres, who was Punahou's offensive line coach in a state semifinal win over Leslie and Kahuku, saw what the new coach accomplished with his former players.

"Once he left his family, it's understandable," Torres said. "He did good things in his year at Kahuku, it is just too bad for the kids. We don't know what the future holds, but I am happy at Punahou."



At June 02, 2015 6:55 PM, Blogger alia52nalie said...

I am not sure how much this resignation is going to impact them but when he was charged with DUI in 1997, I was working with the same DUI lawyer who represented his case. I think he is a good man but at times circumstances make you wrong or bad in other people’s views.


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