A Committed Crusader Coach
Late Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes never began a speech without telling his audience the importance of “paying forward.”
That same mind-set was ingrained in Saint Louis quarterback coach Vince Passas long ago, but it was a family tragedy in 1996 that solidified his commitment to helping others.
“I had a 5-year-old daughter, Natasha, pass away that year, and it was a real difficult moment in my life and my wife’s (Glenda) life,” said Passas. “It was hard to just get through life and move on; there were suicidal moments.”
The outpouring of support at her funeral was a source of comfort. “We must have had hundreds and hundreds of people come through the line,” he recalled. “Two women in their 80s, who didn’t know each other, told me the same thing – that the only way I’d make it through was by helping others. One came through at the beginning, the other near the end. She hugged me and validated what I’d been told by the first lady. I found my way back to the church, and every opportunity I have now is to help others, I do my best. If God is taking care of my daughter up there, I’ll take care of people down here.
“(Natasha) was my best friend in the world. She told me every day she loved me and that she wanted to marry me.”
Now 56, Passas is a Realtor during the day, but has spent 39 years tutoring Hawaii quarterbacks, and the list of student-athletes he’s helped to excel is extensive. He runs free Sunday clinics for quarterbacks and receivers for much of the year at Saint Louis School.
Players are sent home often with the understanding that “they aren’t to come back until they’ve done the following things,” said Passas. “No. 1, I want them to give their mom a hug before they leave the house and tell her they love her. It’s the same when they return home. No. 2, I want them to make at least two people smile every day. No. 3, I want them to perform at least one random act of kindness. No. 4, when an ambulance, police car or fire truck rushes by, I ask that they do the sign of the cross and pray for them and their family because someday that could be one of us. And not least of all, I want them to be a team player at home as well as on the football field. If they see dishes in the sink, do the dishes.”
Kids from the age of 5 through college flock to his clinics. Among the rewards is having the older ones come back off-season after off-season. “They give the young kids hope that they could someday be like them,” Passas said.
The list of stellar quarterbacks under his tutelage from 2011 to 1977 includes Crusaders Marcus Mariota, Jeremy Higgins, Micah Mamiya, Cameron Higgins, Jeremiah Masoli, Stanley Nihipali, Kealii Perbera, Bobby George, Kelika Higa, Timmy Chang, Jason Gesser, Darnell Arceneaux, Joe Correia, Joel Lane, John Hao, Mike Nua; from Kaiser High, Jared Wong, Cliff Kaneiakala, Edmund Kakalia, Chris Whaley and Gary Keahohou.