Coaching Roster Has Major Change At Kahuku High School
It’s official. Kahuku High School confirmed last week that Lee Leslie is the school’s new head football coach. Leslie’s hiring, which was originally reported by MidWeek‘s sister publication, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, ended weeks of speculation as to who would become the caretaker for the proud program.
Leslie has coached football for 20 years, most recently at Idaho’s Kuna High.
“I consider Kahuku to be one of the top opportunities in the country,” he said. “They’ve always had amazing athletes.” He plans to start by having his players get to know him and his expectations. His vision is to coach them to “a winning spirit and attitude on and off the field. I’ll spend as much time with them off the field to ensure that their GPA and ACT scores are where they need to be.”
His resume includes 17 championships in addition to having been a member of Ron McBride’s staff as a graduate assistant coach during a successful run at the University of Utah. Leslie also has coached in the AFL. His most recent team title was won while at Bishop Kelly High (in Idaho) in 2010. Leslie also won a pair of academic state high school football championships, both while at Bishop Kelly, and has earned Coach of the Year honors nine times. His 2013 Kuna High team went 7-3 last fall in Class 4A play, losing in the first round of the state playoffs to the aforementioned Bishop Kelly High.
Among the former players Leslie helped tutor were three who played in the NFL: Joe Germaines (Minnesota Vikings), Bart Hendricks (Chicago Bears) and Jerry Montgomery (New Orleans Saints).
While he has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a teaching certificate, Leslie said his grandparents had a big impact on his development, having raised him after his mother died the day he was born.
“No. 1, they taught me to respect women,” he said. “No. 2, they taught me to work hard and to do it right. I try to be the same kind of coach.”
Leslie succeeds Reggie Torres, who had been head coach since 2006, when he succeeded Siuaki Livai. Torres posted a 75-14 overall mark with the Red Raiders. Including wrestling and judo, Torres was part of 11 state titles at the school. (His football teams won five state titles and five OIA championships.)
Torres and other head coaches at Kahuku had been asked to reapply for their positions last month by new principal Pauline Masaniai.
“With many qualified candidates, it was a very difficult decision,” stated Masaniai. “Coach Leslie has been very successful in all the programs he has developed – he’s a motivational speaker, he is bighearted and has integrity.
“He’s known for rallying the community, building support, and structurally improving his stadiums, locker rooms and facilities. Kahuku High is creating the whole package – academic, extracurricular, cultural, arts,” she added, “so parents don’t have to look beyond their own community.
“Coach Lee represents the connection for all of our students and the bridge for those who choose to pursue college and football opportunities on the Mainland.”