Kahuku’s new head football coach calls post ‘a lifetime commitment’

Kahuku High and Intermediate head football coach Vavae Tata
Kahuku High and Intermediate head football coach Vavae Tata


Kahuku High and Intermediate has announced its new head football coach.

Vavae Tata was most recently an assistant coach at Vanderbilt University, where he oversaw player development.

Tata was born and raised in Hawaii, graduated from St. Louis High and went on to play football at UCLA while earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology.

He participated in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship Program, and served as an assistant coach at UCLA, Stanford and San Jose State.

“I’m excited to be part of Kahuku’s powerhouse tradition on the gridiron,” Tata said. “People have asked, ‘Why Kahuku?’ My consistent answer is, ‘Why not?’ I plan to challenge our athletes to compete in the classroom and move forward with the continuing philosophy of faith, family, future and football. My primary focus will be student first, athlete second. I’ll also use my widespread resources to propel our students into college, and mentor them to be great men through college, career and family. This isn’t a one-, two- or four-year decision; this is a lifetime commitment from me.”

The former All-State defensive lineman does bring some controversy and he addressed it openly Tuesday.

Tata was charged with two DUIs since 1997 including, most recently, in 2014, which led to his demotion at Vanderbilt from defensive line coach.

“I made a mistake and I own up to it and I’ve learned from it, I’ve grown from it. Hopefully the kids can learn from my mistakes,” he told KHON2.

“He’s been a positive voice to other young people about being responsible and making right choices. So he communicated that so articulately to our group that we felt like he is an excellent role model and he is someone we can support,” added principal Pauline Masaniai.

Tata becomes Kahuku’s third head coach in three seasons.

The school’s former head coach, Lee Leslie, resigned from the position after one season.

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