Nakamura will coach Warriors
Cody Nakamura’s first call after being told he will be the third head football coach in Kamehameha Schools Maui history was to his lifelong friend Kaluka Maiava.
“He was very excited, he knows what I have planned,” the 26-year-old Nakamura said Tuesday of his conversation with his former Baldwin teammate who recently signed with the Oakland Raiders. “He always had my back in everything that I tried to do as far as coaching, so he’s excited. He set a few goals for me, a couple challenges. And, of course, he’s going to be helping out, so I look forward to working with him.”
Nakamura, a 2005 Baldwin graduate who was a standout tight end at Weber State before graduating in 2010, has plenty in mind for the Upcountry school.
“It’s a huge opportunity and something that I have been looking at for a while now, so once the opportunity popped up, I put my mind on putting my name in there and going in and getting it,” Nakamura said from Yogurt Land in Kahului where he is a co-owner.
Nakamura takes over for Kevin O’Brien, who stepped down after the 2012 season with a 10-17 overall record.
“For me, there is no excuse why they shouldn’t be winning,” Nakamura said. “No excuses over there, you have got a great facility, great weight room, beautiful practice field. Everything you could ask for is there.”
Nakamura landed the job over fellow finalists Kaulana Noa, a four-year starter at Hawaii who was on the St. Louis Rams’ practice squad in 2000 and 2001, and veteran Maui youth coach Jack Damuni.
“Jack Damuni, he’s everywhere when it comes to football and Kaulana Noa, he won a Super Bowl,” Nakamura said. “So, that’s pretty huge. It’s good.”
Nakamura was an All-State wide receiver in 2004.
He earned first-team All-Big Sky Conference honors in 2008 and was named third-team All-America by The Sporting News after his junior season when he had 48 catches for 729 yards and 10 touchdowns. His senior year was off to a quick start – 21 catches, 184 yards, four touchdowns – when a severe knee injury in the third game of the season basically ended his playing career.
Nakamura plans to surround himself with fellow young coaches, most of whom have college playing experience. At the head of the list is former Baldwin and UCLA center Kai Maiava, Kaluka’s younger brother, and Kaniela Tuipulotu, the former Lahainaluna High, Kahuku High, Arizona and Hawaii defensive lineman. Nakamura also said he has made a phone call to Damuni.
The staff is likely to have a distinct Baldwin flavor – Nakamura has coached receivers for the last two years for the Bears.
“It is basically just doing what I can and putting it all together,” Nakamura said. “There’s a possibility (Baldwin) guys come up. I am definitely going to ask a couple of them.”
Nakamura said his young age for the job was brought up in his interview with Kamehameha athletic director Blane Gaison.
For me, it is not a concern at all,” Nakamura said. “Being young also brings a lot of positives, too. A lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of passion, a lot of love for the game. I have only been out of the game for a couple years now, so everything is still fresh in my mind.
“We are going to be able to surround ourselves with the best possible coaching staff that we can. Once you show the kids results, everything else falls into place.”
Offensive and defensive game plans will be up to the coordinators, Nakamura said, and he has also been in contact with holdover assistants from O’Brien’s staff.
Spring drills start in late May.
“We have to have at least a position coach for every position when it comes to spring because we are already three months behind as far as I’m concerned,” Nakamura said. “Everything has got to be in place and we have got to get ready to work.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com