WAILUKU - The only soccer coach in the history of the Maui Interscholastic League to guide a team to a state title is calling it a career, at least for now.
Kawika Keator, who has guided Baldwin High School to two girls state championships, another state final and two more final fours to go along with nine MIL titles in 13 seasons, said Tuesday night that he is retiring.
No other Neighbor Island Division I team has won even a single state crown.
Keator said the main reason for the decision is his health - he has been battling kidney disease since 2007 and requires 9 1/2 hours of dialysis over two sessions daily. He did not rule out a return if a transplant comes through.
"Being that I teach at Baldwin, it is going to be strange when soccer season comes around and I'm not out there going to the field," he said.
Keator said he will get more time with his daughters - McKenzie, 12, and Bailey, 10 - and wife Kathy.
"My health is actually the first thing I want to take care of," he said. "My kids are getting older, my first daughter was born when I started coaching at Baldwin."
A year ago, Keator twice was ready for a transplant only to be told at the hospital that the organ would not work for him.
His legacy in the MIL appears secure.
"I think he set the bar for all of the teams even on Oahu to see what Maui teams could do," said MIL Coach of the Year Tony Medeiros of Maui High. "Baldwin won a lot of state titles, we at Maui High were the first to go to a state final back in 1983, but the Baldwin teams have taken it to the next level over the years."
Keator won his most recent league title this year.
"He got me ready for college soccer," said MIL Player of the Year and Baldwin senior Amanda Jorgensen. "Just to look at the list of players he has guided to college soccer is pretty amazing. It is pretty hard to believe that he won't be coaching this team next year."
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