LIHUE — Derek Borrero has decided to step down as the varsity football head coach at Kauai High School.
Borrero, who just won a Kauai Interscholastic Federation championship this past season, said he’s moving on from coaching football because he believes he’s needed elsewhere. The decision came soon after the team was eliminated in the Division I state playoffs.
“I was sitting in my office. Just chilling around 5 or 5:30. Just doing a little review of the season. Still looking at what we got for next year. I just felt a little tug and a whisper,” Borrero said. “I believe in God. I just felt him telling me, ‘You’re done. Enough. I need you to do something else.’ He’s calling me to a different assignment. I spend a lot of time with youth at our church. The Lord was gracious enough to give me 17 years of (coaching) football. I didn’t expect any of this. I just wanted to give back because I love that school. He gave me more than I expected.”
Borrero, who graduated from Kauai High in 1980, was hired by the school in 1999 as the junior varsity football head coach, then under former varsity head coach and current athletic director Kelii Morgado.
“Funny story with that. At that time, I was 35 years old. I called who was the AD at that time, Mrs. Charlene Quinones. I’m an alumni there. I was a four-letter (athlete) there. Just really enjoyed my time there at Kauai High,” Borrero said. “I just wanted to give back. I wasn’t looking to be a head coach, just an assistant to the assistant. Just because I had so much fun, I just wanted to give back.
“Lo and behold, two weeks after that I get hired as one of the coaches,” he continued. “Another two weeks after that, they hired me as the head JV guy. We were just standing outside the weight room, just doing some offseason training. I asked the guys, we all knew Kelii was the varsity head coach. I said, ‘By the way, who’s the JV head coach?’ A bunch of coaches was there, and they all started laughing. ‘What’s so funny?’ They were all thinking, ‘You.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, my gosh.’”
Borrero was promoted to the varsity head job in 2007. He was head coach off and on for seven years, serving the last three years at the helm after a four-year absence.
In his 15 years as a head coach for the school, Kauai High won five varsity and four junior varsity KIF titles. Borrero added that he won two Pop Warner championships as an assistant.
Borrero told Morgado of his decision a few weeks ago, and he made the announcement at the team’s annual banquet soon after.
Morgado said while he was shocked and disappointed that Borrero will no longer lead the football program, he understands the decision because he, too, was a former coach.
“Having gone through that before, when you know, you know. You feel it,” Morgado said. “We all have different reasons for coming to that conclusion, but you invest so much time and effort. For both of us, we spent decades doing that. To walk away from that, you have conviction. It’s an internal feeling that you understand that it’s that time for you to walk away.
“I could see that in his body language and in his eyes. I could hear it in his voice. I just accepted it,” Morgado continued. “On my end, it’s disappointing because finding a good football coach, to find a coach in general, it’s tough. … He’s a disciplinarian. He’s a good manager of the entire program. It’s hard to find someone who can do all those things well, so it’s going to be a tough search for me.”
In addition to his work with with youth at New Hope Church in Kapaa, Borrero will stay at Kauai High as a strength coach, now working with all the school’s student-athletes.
He said he is not tired of coaching football and is open to maybe returning in some capacity. But for now, he wholeheartedly believes he’s meant for something else.
“I could go on forever. I could go forever because I love what I do,” he said. “Once a coach, you’re always a coach. But I truly feel like He’s got a different assignment. You may ask what I’m going to do. I’m going to focus on some ministry, some things in the church. I’m just going to be obedient. The same way I ask our kids to be in the game, football or whatever the sport may be, I feel the calling and I need to be obedient, and see what He needs from me and what He wants me to do.
“It’s probably going to be something in leadership because that’s what coaching is. I believe that’s why He made me a coach for 17 years. He was preparing me for something much bigger than football. But it’s been an amazing time,” he added.
Morgado is accepting inquiries for the vacant position. Those interested can submit resumes to the school’s front office. Deadline is Dec. 29.