A Dedication To Kids And Coaching
Last month, the Hawaii Kai community lost one of its most dedicated volunteers in youth sports. George Nueku, who served as a coach for 35 years in the Hawaii Kai Youth Basketball and Hawaii Kai Youth Baseball leagues, died from cancer March 9 at age 76.
A 1956 Farrington High School graduate, Nueku coached football and baseball at Damien Memorial School, and softball for one year at Kaiser High School with daughter Deanedra.
Today, his memory lives on through his children, who also have become coaches and volunteers in the local sports community, primarily in basketball, softball and baseball.
Nueku actually didn’t play sports growing up. His involvement came later in life as a dad coaching his kids. He and wife Joan (married 56 years) have six children — Chad, Audra, Chandra, Brad, George Jr. and Deanedra.
“It was a way for him to be with his family because his children were in it,” explains Joan, who often accompanied her husband to practices and games, and served as score-keeper. “But he also had a love for coaching other kids too, and giving back to the community. He was a loving husband, father, mentor and coach.”
Daughter Deanedra was a standout athlete in basketball, softball and volleyball at Kaiser High School, as were brothers Brad (football, baseball and basketball) and George Jr. (football and baseball) at Damien.
Sports became such a big part of family life that as his kids got older, Nueku continued to coach even when none of them were on the team anymore, and was still at it when his grandchildren started playing.
Naturally, the next generation of Nuekus is following in dad’s footsteps. Deanedra, a mother of six, works hard to balance not only work and family, but also multiple sports schedules, as she coaches her kids in basketball, baseball and softball for various leagues.
Son Brad also coaches basketball and baseball, and founded HK Basketball, an outside league for youths age 7 to 17.
“He taught me how to be a good person before a player,” says Brad. “And how to be humble and overcome adversity. I miss him dearly and love him a lot.”
Following high school, Nueku joined the Marines, and later Honolulu Fire Department as a firefighter, captain and communications officer before retiring after 27 years. He also was a newspaper district manager, delivering Honolulu Star-Bulletin for 40 years, and worked at Hawaii Job Corps as a residential adviser for four years up until his death.
“He was the best role model, my hero, actually,” says Deanedra. “As a coach, he taught me to be disciplined and humble, to respect the game and give 110 percent in all that I do.
“He taught me to be an athlete, coach and a better person. My hero has left me, but through me his legacy will live on. I love you, Dad.”
Funeral services are scheduled for Wednesday, April 8, from 5:30 to 9 p.m., and Thursday, April 9, at 9 a.m., followed by burial at 1 p.m. at Hawaiian Memorial Park.