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Silva’s 36-year tenure with Maui High comes to end

Silva

Gilbert Silva, a coach at Maui High School for the last 36 years, has ended his career with the Sabers, he said in an email to The Maui News on Saturday.

Silva has been the head coach for Sabers girls basketball for the last 18 years, although he relinquished most of those duties to his co-head coach and daughter Crystal Bal for the 2019-20 season. He noted the decision to part ways was mutual between him and athletic director Mike Ban.

“My athletic department has decided to take a new direction in girls basketball,” Silva wrote. “Effective 05/04/2020 was my last day as a head basketball coach with MHS.”

Silva was both the junior varsity boys basketball and JV football coach at the Kahului school from 1984-88, varsity boys basketball coach from 1988-95, an assistant varsity football coach from 1995-2004 and JV girls basketball coach from 2000-02.

Among those he shared coaching duties with at Maui High are legendary Sabers Don Snyder, Roderick Fong and Curtis Lee.

“I enjoyed every single year and stressed education before athletics,” Silva wrote. “In addition, I tried to teach the basic fundamentals of basketball, and it didn’t matter if they had experience or not. My main objective was teaching life after high school sports, being able to handle adversity, and be a successful person in our community.

“In my opinion, the winning and losing records wasn’t as important as being a competitor in every game, giving 100% effort in practices and games, and be a team player with passion for the team.”

The 2020 Sabers finished 9-3 in the Maui Interscholastic League regular season (9-5 overall) and lose just one senior in Kylenna Rieta. They lost three of their last four games — each time, those losses came with a state berth on the line.

“A new direction for girls basketball will soon take place, and I wish the best and success for that person,” Silva said. “As for all my returnees in both JV and Varsity players, I wish you the very best and thank you for being a part of my life. You will never be forgotten. However, as the years move forward I might forget your name and not recognize you, but don’t avoid me and at least say ‘hi.’ “

Silva was always concerned about developing the game.

“The main area that I wanted to improve was to continue with JV girls basketball games and without using varsity players,” Silva said. “This would provide more girls to turn out for basketball and chance for girls with less talent to play. Yes, it needs to be promoted more by the coaches and a good source is the PE Teachers.”

The 71-year-old was gracious in his final thoughts.

“Lastly, I want to thank my wife Brenda and my family for all the years they supported me,” he wrote. “In addition, thanks to our Administration, Faculty, Staff, all my Coaches, and ALL my business supporters for their continued support throughout my years in coaching.”

Ban said the search for a new head coach will commence when the Maui High campus opens.

“Coach Silva and I met and we mutually agreed that it was time that we move in a different direction,” Ban said Sunday. “We appreciate all his years of support and guidance and we wish him the best of luck, but we want to thank him for his dedication and professionalism.”

He emphasized that Silva was always available for whatever the Sabers athletic department needed.

“He has helped us with announcing, whether it was softball — he was our MIL softball announcer at Patsy Mink Field,” Ban said. “Whenever we needed help he has been there for me and the program, for the kids. We appreciate all his support throughout the years.”

Maui High principal Jamie Yap added that Silva will remain a big part of the Sabers ohana.

“Coach Silva will be missed as his contributions to Maui High School cannot be counted with the number of years he has been loyal to the blue and white — the number of athletes he has touched will be part of his legacy at Maui High,” Yap said via text message Sunday. “We can only wish him well in his new adventures and thank him for his service and love for the school.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

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