UHH expects smoother sailing with softball hire
University of Hawaii at Hilo interim athletic director Tim Moore looks at the vacant softball coaching position as a plum job, and it’s the same thing for baseball, too.
On May 13, the school announced that Jaime Wallin will resign as the UHH softball coach on June 30 when her contract expires.
In four years under Wallin, the Vulcans went 113-73, including 22-20 last season.
In 2013, UHH shared the Pacific West Conference championship and earned a berth to the NCAA Division II tournament.
UHH will soon post the position, and form a search committee, said Moore, who’ll have final approval on the hire.
“I’m anticipating a large pool of candidates for the position,” he said. “It should be posted soon. It’s going through all the usual paperwork stuff.”
The last time the school made a hire it turned into a public relations nightmare, which had former UHH AD Dexter Irvin lamenting the hiring policies.
Most people in the community, as well as the print and radio media, knew that UHH hired G.E. Coleman as the men’s basketball coach. But UHH didn’t release the official hiring until several weeks later.
For the past couple of years, the Vulcans have had difficulty finding local products, let alone homegrown ones. On the 20-player roster in 2014, UHH had just one local player, senior Rebecca Lee, from Mililani, Oahu, who completed her eligibility.
Moore said the search committee will formulate a checklist for the qualities in hiring a coach. But he has a few ideas of his own.
“Winning is always important for an NCAA team, and all of our coaches strive to win,” he said. “But obviously, there are community relations, being able to recruit locally and nationally, putting together a good team, not only cohesive, but also supporting student success in the classroom and playing field, for all of our coaches.
“You don’t have an NCAA team just to have a team for recreational purposes. The idea is to strive to be the best athlete you can be. But it’s not win at all costs. We strive to win as much as we can. We’re looking for someone to lead us in that direction.”
UHH will also soon post the position for baseball. Interim coach Callen Miyataki finished 14-33 in his first season.
“We’ll be posting the job in the near future, before the baseball season,” said Moore, who’s been the interim AD since Jan. 1. “It was a rebuilding year, and they had a lot of good games. I think next year will be much improved.”
Two interesting candidates who could apply are Hawaii Pacific coach Garett Yukumoto (the position is part-time) and former University of Hawaii pitching coach Chad Konishi, who offers private lessons on Oahu.
UHH baseball hasn’t had the same success as softball. The program is on a collegiate record 22-season losing streak.
Back to Civic
Moore plans to move UHH basketball games on Saturdays and tournaments to Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium. The university will shuttle students for free.
“We’re excited to connect with the community more and get students involved, create a student booster club, and mimic some Division I programs like the Cameron Crazies (from Duke),” Moore said. “A lot of people are not going to games (at UHH). The attendance has been down in recent years. I’ve had requests from the public to have games at Hilo Civic. I’d love to fill the place.
“Winning is important for both the program and attendance. But I’m looking for pretty strong seasons. We’ve signed new recruits and got a local kid (Hilo graduate Aliyah Pana), and I really like our chances for the upcoming seasons. Another important point is the style both the men and women play. It’s an exciting style and entertaining game.”
Moore said he’s heard nothing on the proposal for UHH to establish men’s volleyball.
The only practical volleyball conference available is the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, which includes UH, Stanford, UCLA and USC among others.
“There’s no guarantee we could get in that conference,” Moore said. “I know a proposal has been sent (to the state Legislature), but I haven’t heard any movement on it.”
The PacWest only seems to grow in numbers by the day. Currently, there are 14 members, soon to be one less when BYU-Hawaii drops sports in three years.
In 2001, the Great Northwest Athletic Conference was formed when 10 members split from the PacWest, citing travel expenses to Hawaii as a major reason. Moore isn’t worried about being abandoned, again.
“The NCAA said you can’t form new conferences anymore,” he said. “So, I’m really not concerned. We have partners, Hawaii Pacific and Chaminade. If West Oahu adds sports, we could be back up to four, when BYU-Hawaii departs.
“The BYU-Hawaii situation is different. They’ve got an endless amount of students who want to go to the university and have a limit for the mainland and Utah. They don’t need sports as a recruiting tool. It was university-based and religion-based decision to focus on academics and Christian missions and support missionary work. They have other things they value. It’s important to note they have three more years. It’ll be a while before they’re gone.”
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