It’s said that heading home is sometimes the best remedy for success. Kapa’a’s Gary Gatiuan is taking full advantage by going back to his alma mater, Lahainaluna, for the baseball head coaching position.
“I always had this calling to get back here (Lahaina) and ever since I graduated, I knew I wanted to come back to coach,” Gatiuan said.
Gatiuan was born on Maunaloa, Moloka’i, before moving to Kaua’i. He played T-ball, little league, Pony, and Colt baseball for Lihu’e and Kapa’a teams.
As a freshman, Gatiuan played for Kapa’a’s baseball squad, under then-coach Dwight Fujii, before going on to Lahainaluna his sophomore season.
He played three years for the Lunas and earned a scholarship at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo as a pitcher.
After his college playing days, Gatiuan returned home to Kaua’i and started his coaching career with his late brother, Jay, for the Kapa’a Pony league Cardinals. Then Gatiuan moved on to be the pitching coach for the Warriors.
“Coaching at Kapa’a was great. It’s always been a dream of mine, though, to head back to Lahaina, and fortunately my wife made my dream come true,” Gatiuan said.
Gatiuan’s biggest thrill was when the Warriors took the KIF championship, the year after his brother passed on. The team dedicated the season to Jay.
After hearing about the Lahainaluna baseball coaching vacancy from a friend in Maui, Gatiuan applied and learned that he got the job about a couple of months ago.
“We’ve actually started three day a week practices. I’m just trying to get familarized with the team and the town once again,” Gatiuan said.
According to Gatiuan, Kaua’i coaches have taught him a lot about the sport.
“I’d like to thank all the base-ball coaches on Kaua’i. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Just being around them made me a better coach,” Gatiuan said.
His approach remains simple, but every kid in his program will feel a sense of accomplishment, even if they don’t win.
“I feel that maybe I can make these kids better people. It’s just good to be here. If we start winning, that’s a bonus,” Gatiuan said.
His wife, Ivy, said everyone on Kaua’i has supported them so much.
“We’d like to thank everyone on Kaua’i for all the support and we really appreciate everything they’ve done for us,” she said.
“The last thing my dad said to me 20 years ago before I left for Lahaina is the same thing he told me before I left this time,” Gatiuan said. ” ‘Son, no matter what happens, don’t screw up,’ ” his father Joe said.
- Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or firstname.lastname@example.org•