Toshiyuki Nakasone
1399th Engineer Construction Battalion

Athletics

Coaches at rural schools coach more than one sport and assume multiple duties.

Like others, Toshiyuki coaches and teaches. As a teacher-coach, he finds he can expect discipline on and off the field. He encourages excellence in academics as well as sports.

While at Waialua, he sees the football team succeed. The program benefits from community and legislative support.

In 1970 he serves as the first president of the Oahu Interscholastic Association.

Teaching and Coaching

When I was at Farrington they had a football coach, they had a basketball coach, baseball coach. You know when I was doing my internship over there. They had coaches for various sports, but the rural coaches: Castle, Kahuku, Waialua, Leilehua, Waipahu, the coach was the coach of every sport. Those were the days.

[The coach was also athletic director too.] They assume the responsibility of the whole athletic program. But the thing that I enjoyed the most was — you know when you teach the kids in the seventh grade, eighth grade, ninth grade, by the time you get them to go to the high school you have an idea already about the kids’ potential in sports.

And the good thing is that you teach them in a classroom and then you coach them, so you know the kids pretty well. The other good thing about it is that because I used to teach them in class and I’m their coach, discipline-wise, no problem.

When I got the report cards, I used to tell the kids, “You got to have no less than a D in order to play, but I prefer a C or better.” But I said, “The one that I want to watch the most carefully is the character ratings one, two, and three; one-good, two-average, three-below average.” I said, “Whenever I see that [i.e. below average], you going to suffer on the field.”

Every quarter I used to go pick up the report cards from the teacher and I would look at all and I would give the teachers back the report card. And maybe the two or three with that three rating I leave it up to my football captains or my basketball captains and they took care of the punishment so to speak, make them run extra laps. And everybody watching.

After practice is over the three people that had the three rating, they run up and down the field three, four, five times. Everybody laugh and clap for them and then when they kind of slowing down they said, “You guys are going to run another lap if you slow down.” So they keep on running as fast as they can.

But boy, after I did that for a couple of years, I didn’t have any problem with the kids getting a three rating. They know that if they’re going to have a three rating, they’re going to suffer. So that was interesting.

And even now as I look back on the years that I’ve been with the Department of Education, most of my years teaching and coaching was at Waialua. When I was a principal you have a different kind of relationship with kids. You only know the bright kids; you know only the outstanding kids.

But then when you coach, when you teach, you get to know the kids from the time they are in your classroom. So I’ve been to several class reunions from Aiea High School, but I’m not as close to the class because I don’t know them as well as I do the kids that I had at Waialua. There’s a big difference when you go to a class reunion. And of course now that I don’t drive at night, when they have class reunion in Waialua they come and pick me and my family up.

Benefit of Sports in Academics

I always tell the kids, “If you want to play sports you got to do well in classroom first. That’s the number one characteristic that I want you to see. You got to do well in class; you got to behave in class, you got to come to class on time, you shouldn’t have any problems. Okay? When you do well there, you can play.” And that used to be my number one characteristic that I told ’em. You can play providing you do well in school. And so I had no problem when I was coaching.

I always tell them, “Athletics is something you do after the regular school day, okay?” And then of course, the high school kids they supposed to have study hall, too. So I said, “You’re going to make use of every chance to keep up with your school work while you’re in school because when you go home sometimes you’re too tired.”

But I said, “You have to remember that school work comes first. So whatever you do, be sure that you budget your time properly. Then you can do well in the classroom as well as on the athletic field.” So I didn’t really have any problem with any athletes.

Waialua High School Football

[Waialua High School football team won four championships in a row.]

Waialua Championship Football Team. 1952.
Waialua Championship Football Team. 1952.

The whole school community, they all came to support, and you know when you have that kind of support, like when we won the first championship the PTA sponsored a luau [Hawaiian feast]. And the PTA also bought a ring, championship ring, for each of the members. And they conducted a carnival to raise funds and then the whole community came. You know, when you get that kind of support from the PTA and from the community, even the plantation managers.

Waialua High School Football Team. Coach Toshiyuki Nakasone is last row, far left.
Waialua High School Football Team. Coach Toshiyuki Nakasone is last row, far left.

When I [first] went to Waialua we didn’t have any athletic facilities. The facilities belonged to the plantation, it was almost a mile away from our campus. But they [Waialua Sugar Company] had a nice gym, a football field and track oval, and then the baseball field all in one place. And that all was for us to use without any charge and we didn’t have to do any up-keeping. The plantation did all of that. So they provided us with our facilities, but eventually they knew that we needed facilities on the campus because we had no place. So they gave us a big area where we finally had a football field and a track oval built right on campus. The plantation gave us the land.

And the plantation also helped, you see, I didn’t have any locker facilities too. I had a room just about this size, used to be the basement of a class upstairs. And half of the room was just like the locker room. You know, the book lockers, that was the lockers for the football team on one side and the other half we had about ten benches lined up against the wall. We had one toilet bowl, one urinary bowl and three shower heads, all cold shower. And that was our locker room.

And I remember at that time Philip Minn, who used to be a [territorial] representative, came to visit me one day, he said, “Toshi, let me see your facilities.”
I look at him and said, “Where do you want to start?”
He said, “Your locker room.” So I took him down to the locker room and he says, “This is your locker room?”
I said, “Yeah.”
He look around and he says, “You mean only one toilet bowl, one urinary bowl and only three shower heads?”
I said, “Yeah.”
Then he look on the right side and saw only the book lockers, he said, “This is your locker facility for football and whatever?”
I said, “Yeah.”
He shook his head. He said, “Well, let me look at your practice field.”

I said, “Oh, where do you want to go? You can go any place on campus.” We didn’t have any — we had one area on this side, one in the back, one this side, just any place on the campus we could find for P.E. But for athletics, football and basketball, baseball, I said, “We transported our kids to the plantation, but then they provided us with those facilities and all for free.”

And then finally he says, “Ah, well, let’s see, you know.” He says, “Oh, and what kind of pay you get?”
I said, “Oh, I get twenty-five dollars a month.”
“Twenty-five dollars a month?”
“Yeah, for coaching.”

So I figure, oh, that’s about three to five cents an hour. He shook his head and that’s when he told me, “Why don’t you go and get the rest of the rural coaches together and we come up with some kind of a coaching salary.”

So I said, “You mean to say you’re willing to do something?” He said, “Yeah.” ’Cause he was in the legislature, see. So he came up with a plan. [Head] football coach at that time, $400. Wow, $400! Assistant coaches, $200. Then basketball, baseball and track, a little bit less. I presented that to the rural coaches, like [Mitsuo] Fujishige at Waipahu, and Arthur Stranski at Kahuku. And I said, “This is the coaching salary that he wants to push.”

They said, “Wow, terrific.” Because they too were all twenty-five-dollar coaches, so that’s when we started to get the legislature to do something. Now, I don’t know what they get.

OIA [Oahu Interscholastic Association]

When I was president of the ROIA [Rural Oahu Interscholastic Association], that was in [19]69, [19]70, the town [i.e., Honolulu public] schools wanted to join us. Buddy Oliveira was at Roosevelt, Ed Toma was at McKinley, Josh Agsalud was at Kaimuki.

The five public schools in town wanted to join us because they felt that they were at a disadvantage to stay in the ILH [Interscholastic League of Honolulu]. The ILH, what they used to do was, they used to take the best athletes they could find from McKinley or Kaimuki whatever who were in the ninth grade. And they would retain them another year when they transferred them to go to Punahou or whatever. So those kids used to be in high school for five years.

The OIA [Oahu Interscholastic Association] was four years; you cannot be in high school for more than four years to participate. But they [i.e., private schools in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu] used to take the outstanding athletes who were on the [public schools’] JV football team or basketball team and so forth. And they would give them a scholarship or whatever. So by the time they went to Punahou or St. Louis to play, they had one year of experience already, so they would spend another year in the freshman class at the private schools in town, so they got sophomore, junior and senior year [remaining].

[The OIA was formed in] 1969. They approached me, you see, I was president of the ROIA. So I talked to my fellow principals. I said, “Oh yeah, if they want to join us, we welcome them,” because we knew Ed Toma and Buddy Oliveira folks too. So I said, “Well, if you’re willing to join us we’d be more than happy to have you here.”

At that time we had eleven schools in the rural Oahu league [ROIA] and they [ILH] had five schools that wanted to join us. So we had a sixteen-team league, see. So we decided to split it into east and west [divisions]. And that’s when we dropped the “R” and became OIA. So I became the first president of the OIA in 1970.

So in 1970, we started that OIA league, with all the public schools in Oahu in one league. And soon after that Moanalua, Pearl City, Kaiser, Kalaheo, Mililani, and just recently Kapolei [joined the OIA].

The last year we were ROIA I was the principal at Aiea High School. Then when the new league started in September of [19]70 they told me, “Hey, why don’t you continue, why don’t you be the first president, too.” So I was the last president [of the ROIA] and the first president of the Oahu league [OIA].

Toshiyuki Nakasone and Wally Yonamine. Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation Distinguished Honorees. 2000.
Toshiyuki Nakasone and Wally Yonamine. Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation Distinguished Honorees. 2000.

Toshiyuki Nakasone's interview courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Toshiyuki Nakasone.

All rights to the reproduction or use of content in the Hawaii Nisei web site are retained by the individual holding institutions or individuals.

Please view the Hawaii Nisei Rights Management page for more information.