Coach Okita Joins Second HPU Athletic Hall Of Fame Class
Kailua’s own Howard Okita is among the inductees into Hawaii Pacific University’s Athletic Hall of Fame this coming November.
Okita has coached at HPU as either the head softball coach or an assistant
since 1993, when HPU and Hawaii Loa College merged, and he coached at Hawaii Loa before that. He started his HPU tenure as an assistant in 1993 and became head coach the following year. All told, Okita led HPU to the NAIA tournament six times as well as to
three Pacific West Conference championships.
Okita stepped into an assistant coach’s position in 2009, although he remains involved in the program. When the Sea Warriors won the NCAA national title in 2010, he was a key member of the staff that was named
the National Coaching Staff of the Year. The man known as “Coach O” has compiled a 701-274 overall record and taken HPU to the post- season 12 times.
The veteran college coach has announced that the 2013 season will be his last. HPU’s field is named after him. Prior to moving up to the college ranks, Okita won five state softball titles in the 1980s as the head coach at Kailua High School.
HPU’s 2012 Hall of Fame Class, which is its second, also includes tennis standout Michael Maata (see accom- panying story), legendary basketball coach Tony Sellitto, volleyball player Gabriela Artigas and cross country runner Nina Christensen.
The inductions will be Sept. 28 at Aloha Tower at the S.H.A.R.X (Supporting HPU Athletes to Reach eXcellence) Benefit.
Maata was a seven-time All-American at HPU, including four times as in singles and three times in doubles. He led HPU to the NCAA national championship final in 2001 and 2003. During that span, he was ranked annually in the top five.
Sellitto started his college coaching career at HPU in 1988 following a long, suc-
cessful run at Maryknoll High School. In 1993, he and his Sea Warriors became the first Hawaii team to win a national title in basketball when they won the NAIA tournament. In 17 years at HPU, Sellitto went 307-153 overall and led the Sea Warriors to seven NAIA tournament appearances.
After retiring in 2002, Selitto returned to HPU in 2008 for two more seasons.
Artigas, a setter, was key to HPU’s 1990 NAIA national championship volleyball team. A three-time NAIA All-American, Artigas played in 348 matches collecting 3,145 assists, 1,231 digs and 89 aces. She’s currently an HPU professor of computer science.
Christensen also earned All-American honors three times during her HPU career. She also won the Great Aloha Run, the Niketown 5K, the Pearl Harbor 10K and the Hibiscus Half Marathon.