Coach Wong Leads Surfriders

When it comes to coaching, there was really only one destination on Joseph Wong’s radar. That would be Kailua High School, of course, where he was a standout player in the early 1990s.

“Kailua is probably one of the only places I would have considered,” said Wong, who recently was appointed head football coach at Kailua. “Being an alumnus, Kailua is the school I rooted for. I want to give back to the place I came from.”

Wong is hardly a newcomer to coaching at Kailua, having spent the last nine years on outgoing coach Gary Rosolowich’s staff working with the offense and, most recently, helping coach defense.

A 1994 Kailua graduate, he attended UH Manoa his freshman year before transferring to Brigham Young University. His hard work at BYU paid off when he was picked by the Miami Dolphins in the 1999 NFL Draft. Wong also played for the Philadelphia Eagles and Oakland Raiders. He saw coaching in his future before he ended his playing career.

“When I retired, I wanted to get back to Hawaii,” he said. “I knew I wanted to coach, but I didn’t want to pursue coaching at the college ranks or at the professional level. I had kids already, and I knew the time taken away (from those coaching at the highest levels).

“I’m very excited. Coaching with Gary, I was able to be a part of the program and part of a lot of great young men from Kailua and Waimanalo. I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”

Wong played for the legendary Alex Kane in high school, and while at BYU, he developed a strong relationship with current UH coach Norm Chow, who was then in the midst of a long successful run as BYU’s offensive coordinator.

“Alex Kane had a long-lasting effect on me – I look up to him as a coach,” Wong said. “There are a lot of coaches I have learned from, but I’d say the one I’m closest to is Norm. I was with him for three years, and we’ve always touched base wherever he’s been, and I’ll be talking to him a little more now that I’m a head coach. I respect him immensely.

“He’s more of a father figure than a coach,” he added. “I admire what he’s done in his career.”

Kailua was 2-7 last fall overall, including a 2-4 mark in the OIA East Red under Rosolowich, who stepped down at season’s end. The Surfriders were one of the youngest teams in the league.

“We have a lot of young talent. With a year under their belt, they’ll be veterans now. I’m looking forward to the upcoming season and the challenges ahead.”

Kailua was to officially begin its off-season workouts Tuesday and will conduct spring practices in late May.