PUKALANI - Kurt Ginoza, athletic director at Kamehameha Schools Maui through its first decade, has resigned his post effective Sept. 7.
Ginoza, 42, told his Maui Interscholastic League colleagues of his decision at their meeting last week. He said the time commitment to the job was a major part of him stepping down - he and wife Alicia have a 3-year-old son, Lucas.
"I am a father so some of my priorities have changed," Ginoza said. "I have been talking with my family, of course, and my supervisors for some time now about things that I want to do professionally. In my current position, there are other opportunities that have come by previously. I have had a few pass and right now it seems like a good time for me to explore some opportunities."
Ginoza said his decision did not come easily, but he emphasized that it was his idea to move on.
"Last week Thursday, once I was at peace with what I wanted to do, with the support of my wife and the school, the first people I was going to notify were my colleagues in the MIL and my staff who helped me lay a good foundation for this athletic program," he said. "It is exciting, these opportunities that I have in front of me for my family as well as professionally. ... It was my decision, balanced with these things I have in front of me."
Ginoza declined to say what he is considering, other to say that he would stay involved in education and he is not a candidate for the University of Hawaii AD job - current AD Jim Donovan was placed on indefinite leave last month following the Stevie Wonder concert fiasco. With a recently purchased house, Ginoza said his immediate plans are to stay on Maui.
He was a teacher and assistant football coach at Waianae High School until 2000, when he took the AD job at Molokai. He left Hoolehua for Kamehameha Maui in 2002. He said he will continue to be heavily involved with the Positive Coaching Alliance.
"First and foremost my family is in good health, so everything is really great," he said. "There is a lot of speculation out there, but Maui is home for now. I will still be involved in the community."
Lance Cagasan, the school's principal in charge of 9th and 10th grades and athletics, is a former head basketball coach for the Warriors.
"During his tenure, Kurt was able to build and assemble an athletic program from the ground up - not many athletic directors can say that," Cagasan said.
Cagasan said Ginoza will be missed for more than just success on the fields and courts.
"Besides the numerous MIL championships and Kaimana Award recognitions garnered by the athletic program, Kurt ensured that Ginoza the primary focus of the department would always be on the 'Student Athlete,' " Cagasan said. "Ten years later, we are a full-fledged high school with an athletic program that has a solid foundation. It is because of this solid foundation that I see ourselves growing in ways that will only enhance the experience of our student athletes. I am thankful to Kurt for establishing the roots of our program and I'm excited to see what the next phase of our growth will look like."
Cagasan added that the search for Ginoza's replacement has already begun.
The list of people Ginoza wanted to thank was long. His colleagues in the MIL, league executive director Joe Balangitao and Balangitao's predecessor Stephen Kim were among them, as were the Fernandez, Higa and Eno ohanas, David and Flo Keala, and the Kamehameha parents, colleagues and coaches. KSM principals Mitch Kalauli and Warren Hitz were also on the list.
"I have been part of this league for 12 years and it has been a great journey," Ginoza said. "Molokai was two great years. ... Then to see this department grow from 96 freshman and a dozen coaches to over 65 coaches and over 30 teams, it was exciting."
As Ginoza spoke on Wednesday, he had just picked up Lucas from his first day of preschool.
"I want to be involved with my son, as all fathers do," Ginoza said. "I also definitely want to thank my wife, she followed me from back in the mid-1990s being a coach at Waianae for nine months out of the year. In 2000, she gave me the blessing to throw my hat into the ring for the Molokai job and see what happens. From there, she said, 'Well, take a chance on this Kamehameha job. If Maui is in it for us, so be it.' As every administrator knows, to be a better school six days a week, you need that strong family support."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org