WAILUKU --- Alan Walls says he is home.
Walls, a 1993 graduate of St. Anthony High School, was announced as the Trojans' boys basketball coach on Thursday. Walls has coached at the college and international professional level.
''I have never applied for a high school head-coaching job before and there is no other high school job in the country that I would have applied for --- that is how much this job means to me,'' Walls said. ''This school has a lot of basketball tradition dating back to the 1960s, '70s, and '80s and I want to bring that back.''
As Walls sat down in the school's office, he talked to athletic director Charlie Pico about the 39th annual St. Anthony Invitational that will be played in December. Earlier, in the principal's office, he chatted with the Rev. Jim Orsini about the school's decision to play eight-man football --- a subject Walls knows about from his days in Texas.
As he roamed the corridors of the place he said helped shape him, Walls, 33, looked like he never left. His basketball travels, however, have taken him around North America.
He spent his first three years of college at the University of Hawaii, then took a year off for an internship with Intel in New Mexico. That led him to his first basketball coaching break, when he decided to finish his bachelor's degree at Northern Colorado --- a place he went back to three years later to get his master's degree in sports administration.
''I started coaching during my sophomore year at UH at Saint Louis School for two years --- coaching at the age of 19,'' said Walls, who played football, basketball, track and baseball at St. Anthony. ''Then my senior year at Northern Colorado, I coached at Greeley Central High School. From there it has been college and professional.''
From 2002 to 2004, Walls was a graduate assistant --- but one of only three total coaches --- at Northern Colorado. He then spent three years at Texas Lutheran University, a Division III school near San Antonio. His next stop was Schreiner University, another D-III school in Texas. His last coaching stop was for the last two years at Nuevo Laredo of the Mexican Professional League. In between all of that, he spent two years in the Peace Corps in El Salvador.
He was let go as head coach for Nuevo Laredo just 12 games into this season, but at the time he was the sixth coach in the 24-team league to be released this year.
''The Mexican professional league is 24 teams, as professional as you get, there are a lot of Americans playing down there, making good money,'' he said. ''It is very athletic, all Division-I type of player.''
The Northern Colorado job was the real start of his career, Walls said.
''That was the break I was looking for, to get my foot in the door,'' he said. ''I was one of only two assistant coaches there even though I was technically a graduate assistant. It was a great opportunity --- had I been a graduate assistant at a Duke or North Carolina I would have been getting towels, making coffee and washing the coach's car.
''At a place like Northern Colorado, which was in transition to Division I, I got a unique perspective in two years to be able to get Division-II and Division-I experience. Being one of only three people on the staff, there was a lot of stuff thrown at me, a lot of responsibility.''
Walls said even his short stint with expansion Nuevo Laredo was a positive.
''It was a great learning experience for me and it gave me the opportunity to be available when this job here opened up,'' he said. ''Very few people know what international basketball is about and it is the most cutthroat business. There were five coaches let go before me and one of them with a winning record. We were making good strides, moving in the right direction, but as the head coach someone's head was going to roll and it turned out to be me.
''They say you are not really a basketball coach until you have been fired. I guess I can call myself a basketball coach now.''
For a school that has lost its varsity football program --- the Trojans hope to play exhibition games on a club basis this fall as a prelude to Maui Interscholastic League varsity-level play in 2010 --- and highly successful baseball coach Shane Dudoit in the last two weeks, the Walls hire is welcome news.
''We are definitely excited and satisfied to land Alan,'' Pico said. ''We had a bunch of good applicants, so it was a tough process in hiring a basketball coach. We are definitely happy about Alan coming aboard as an alumnus and with his experience in coaching. We are definitely looking for good things to come.''
Pico said the eight-man football idea is moving forward. Walls said that he would be a candidate to join Pico, the head football coach, on the sidelines in the future.
''I have been in contact with Molokai, and they have shown great interest in the eight-man,'' Pico said. ''They have had Pop Warner now for a number of years and they have been progressing. They are definitely interested --- they look at the moment like the leader for the team to play in the fall in exhibition games.
''Lanai, I talked to (AD) David McHugh yesterday and they feel like they are maybe two years away. The feedback has been positive. A lot of people have approached me about it and they feel it is a viable option on the horizon for a lot of people.''