The Scene: Former coach Tino Reyes content with life after UHH

  • Tino Reyes

For a lot of us, being told by your boss that your services are no longer wanted can be a devastating hit to a career.

Then again, most of us aren’t coaches and none of us is Tino Reyes, the well-respected former volleyball coach at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, who took that job for eight years after a total of 19 seasons at the University of Hawaii where he was a top assistant for the men’s team.


Three years ago, Reyes walked into the office of Pat Guillen, then the newly installed UHH athletics director, for a standard postseason meeting. When he walked in, he was handed a resignation letter and asked to sign it, with no discussion.

“Hey,” Reyes said last week, “how many guys do you know who coach for their job? How many of them get fired or quit because they can’t work for the people who they work for?

“My situation wasn’t unusual,” he said with a big grin. “It was what happens to most of us, and I knew it wasn’t going to work, longterm, as soon as he came in. I saw how he talked to people, I saw how he treated people, it wasn’t for me.”

As it happened, Reyes was told to leave before he left of his own volition, but in the time since, this valued Hawaii volleyball coach has been happier than you might expect, helping coach a championship high school team in Oregon, helping his son get a coaching start at the University of Nebraska while making ends meet as a greeter at the Hawaiian Style Cafe.

“Life is good,” he said, “I don’t have much to complain about, not as much as I would have if I stayed (at UHH).”

Reyes was replaced with coach who had bounced around at small schools, moving every couple of years, and lasted at UHH two years before he said he was resigning to spend more time with his family.

No matter, coaches like that come and go and the school had a good one fall into its lap when Chris Leonard agreed to take the interim title. Leonard is at the top of local club coaches, his knowledge of players will surely be useful, but at UHH, there’s only so much a coach can do.

“Chris will be great for them,” Reyes said, “I know he will do all he can.”

The issue, as always for an athletic department expected to get by on less than every opponent in the conference, is money. Reyes said he had the equivalent of 5.5 scholarships, but that number was boosted when he left. Still, it’s a place where you have to get lucky.

“Chris knows and most volleyball people understand, if there’s a talented kid here in Hawaii who is good enough to play for the Vulcans, they all know about her on the mainland. You used to be able sneak a good player in past the mainland recruiters but those days are over.”

Reyes may have to be content with assisting, as he is still a valued resource for knowledgable coaches, and that’s OK.

“You always miss something you like to do,” he said, “but the way I look at it, you have to be pretty privileged to go out your way — Coach K, Dean Smith, John Wooden, those guys are special.

“I’m just a volleyball coach in Hawaii,” he said. “We’re humble, but we enjoy life.”

Festival of Respect and Noise

His father was synonymous with everything drag racing is about in Hilo, and the tradition of racing, music, food and fun continues for Vernal Vincent at the Kolohefest in two weeks (Aug. 24 and 25), at the Hilo Dragstrip, arguably the biggest motorsports event of the year on the Big Island.

“You know, my dad was one of the first ones out here,” said Shane Vincent, coordinator of the event. “He used to race motorcycles at the old airport by Kona, but he was really involved in the State of Hawaii’s only ‘Run What You Brung’ drag event, and it grew into this.

Vincent used to race an old roadster he maintained, “Sudden Rush,” which later became a band name for his son’s band, which played reggae, rap, some Hawaiian and some rock music.

But the Kolohefest has grown into a spectacle that will no doubt draw more people than any sporting event on the Big Island that weekend.

“It keeps growing,” Vincent said. “Last year we had about 3500 people for the two days, but from what we are hear ing ahead of time, we think it will be more like 4000 this year.”

For more information, check the website

Fishing Finale

The Super Bowl of fishing for Hilo enthusiasts approaches on Labor Day weekend, Aug. 31-Sept. 1 when the Hilo Trollers will hold their last competition of 2019 that will determine Fisherman of the Year, presupposing there will be no hurricane to crash the party.

“If we get something like that, we’re done,” said Craig Severance, the weigh master for the local club. “For the last one, if we have to postpone, we don’t reschedule, we just call it a season.”

In the unlikely event that should happen, the Joanie Ann, skippered by Rawen Peltier, would be the winner as that boat leads the standings going into the final event, but the last one is the big one. All other Hilo Trollers contests are one-day affairs with the largest weight total of the four categories — marlin, ahi, ono and mahi mahi — defining the winner


But as it usually happens, the standings are close enough that the boat that brings in the biggest haul on the final event is usually the winner.

Contact Bart at for comments and suggestions on local clubs and individuals

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