A Father-Daughter Coaching Duo

Kehau, Vanessa, Kent and Aloha Yamaguchi and Kealoha Hirokawa

Kehau, Vanessa, Kent and Aloha Yamaguchi and Kealoha Hirokawa (missing is fourth sister Iwalani). Nathalie Walker photo nwalker@midweek.com

A little over a week ago, Chaminade head softball coach Kent Yamaguchi led his Silverswords to a historic victory over softball powerhouse Hawaii Pacific – their first win over HPU since 2005.

A few days later, Kamehameha head softball coach Aloha Yamaguchi guided the Warriors to a huge ILH win over powerful Punahou, a victory that helped propel them into an automatic berth in the upcoming state high school championships.

Like father, like daughter.

“(Hawaii Wahine head coach) Bob Coolen was talking with me the other day and mentioned what a rarity that was – a father and a daughter who are both head coaches, one in college and one in high school,” Kent tells me.

Kent, also known as Coach Yam, has been the head coach at Chaminade for seven seasons. Aloha is in her third season as head coach at Kamehameha. “I’m so proud of Aloha,” Kent says. “She took a program that was 2 and 8 the year before she got there, and she has helped turn them into contenders.”

Aloha is taking graduate courses and saves money by living at home with her parents, Kent and Vanessa, in the family home in Kahaluu. “I can see the light burning late, so I know she’s up working hard,” the proud father says. “We brainstorm about coaching at the breakfast table. I ask her opinion on things, and she asks me for my advice.”

“They have such a wonderful relationship,” says Chaminade athletic director Bill Villa. “It’s open communication, so caring, and it goes both ways. Kent and Vanessa’s whole family is like that – it’s a very loving family atmosphere.”

All four of Coach Yam’s daughters were softball stars, and their mom still keeps score for her husband and her daughter’s teams. Aloha starred at University High before playing collegiately at the University of Pacific. Her twin sister, Kealoha, played catcher for Coach Coolen at the University of Hawaii. The two younger sisters, Kehaulani and Iwalani, played for their dad at Chaminade. Coach Yam’s brother Dean is an assistant coach and strength coach at Chaminade, and Dean’s daughter Anuhea is a senior on this year’s Silversword team.

“Softball has been very good to my family,” Coach Yam says. “All the cousins came to see Anu play her senior game (against HPU at Central Oahu Regional Park). When we beat HPU, it was wonderful. It’s been a long time coming – we’ve had our chances before, but we finally finished this one out.”

“Everybody was so happy, and Aloha was so happy for her dad,” Villa says. “She knows the struggles and appreciates the happiness for someone you love.”

A few days later, dad was on the sidelines at a Kamehameha game, watching his daughter’s team clinch a state berth in a victory over St. Francis. “I see how hard she prepares,” he says. “She’s having a great season this year.” You can expect the whole Yamaguchi family in the stands when Kamehameha plays in the HHSSA tournament May 2 to 5 at UH Wahine Stadium.

“Dad and I have different styles and different coaching philosophy,” Aloha says, “but we’re always there for each other for support. They are my backbone. We’re very tight as a family, and to see them all there in my first trip to States as a head coach will be so great.”