Tuesday, June 28, 2022 |
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For nearly two decades, Keli’i Morgado devoted his life to teaching football to the young men of Kapaa and Kauai high schools.
During those years he spent time with the sons of others in hopes of instructing them, not only to be good football players, but to eventually be contributing men of society.
After winning four consecutive KIF championships with Kauai and one with Kapaa, Morgado feels the need to spend time with his own sons and has decided to step down as head football coach of Kapaa High School.
“I spent 18 years, nine to 10 months out of the year with everyone else’s sons. I think it’s time to spend time with my wife and son,” Morgado said.
“Originally, I thought I’d do it forever. I have three uncles that have coached for over 40 years each. I thought I’d do it that way, but that’s a lot of time. I miss on a lot of things with my sons.
Fresno Masaniai, 17, has played for Morgado’s varsity squad for the past two seasons and was shocked by the news of his coach stepping away from football.
“When I first heard it, I thought it was impossible,” Masaniai said. “As a player, I could just see his passion and love for football. He did more than he could for us to have a successful season.”
Kapaa junior varsity coach Brentton Rapozo played quarterback for Morgano from 2008 through 2010.
He, too, could not believe Morgano would not be coaching anymore but understands his reasons for removing himself as Kapaa’s head coach.
“We’ve been talking for a while. We kind of had a feeling, but it was still shocking,” he said.
“His life revolved around football. But with the new edition to his family, in a way it was the right time to hang it up.”
Morgado’s wife, Heather, said her husband’s initial thoughts to stop coaching came around the time their youngest son, Mateo, was born.
“When he started coaching at Kapaa, we knew it wasn’t going to be forever because we were planning to add to our family,” she said. “Once Mateo was born, we realized more so how much time it takes.
“It was up to him, though, when he felt the time was right.”
Rapozo said Morgado’s teachings weren’t just about football. He tried to prepare them for life after high school.
“He talks to you like an adult,” Rapozo said.
“He always said the main thing is to prepare them for the adult world. There’s more to football than just winning and losing. He tried to teach life lessons through football.”
Kapaa High School principal Daniel Hamada agreed that Morgado teachings were felt far from the football field.
“Through sports, you develop an attitude of being responsible and being an effective team member,” Hamada said.
“When we go out into the real world, that’s what we have to be. He wasn’t just a football coach. He helped kids prepare for life.”
Masaniai said Morgado really helped him out of a bad situation. While it didn’t feel like it at the time, he benefited from it in the long run.
“My junior year, I messed up so bad. It cost us big time,” he said. “He made me sit and watch. The reason I didn’t play was because of me.
“He took away football. At the moment, I just wanted to play. But I thank him for what he did. It helped me move on and be a better person from the situation.”
Jonathan Paleka, 17, played for Morgado as a kicker and receiver for the past three seasons. He said Kapaa won’t be the same without his coach’s presence on the sidelines.
“Kapaa is going to miss out on a big coaching figure,” he said. “He’s a super good coach that’s hard to replace. He’s a true man.”
While he will miss coaching and bonding with his players, Morgado said now is the best time to leave.
“I thought about it. These kids were born the year that I started,” he said. “I’ve come full circle with these group of kids.
“We felt like if they’re going to move their tassel on graduation day and have their last football experiences, it should be mine with them. I should leave when they leave. It just would have felt strange to keep going. I wanted to leave with them.”
Morgado also said while administration could possibly be in his future, he intends to spend as much time with his family and coaching, at least for now, is not in his best interests.
“Right now, I’m enjoying this. I enjoy coming home after school and spending time with my family,” he said.
“I get to give my baby a bath. I missed that. He’s sleeping whenever I got home.”
Kapaa’s former junior varsity head coach Philip Rapozo will take charge of the varsity squad, according to Morgado.
A luau will be held to commemorate Morgado’s 18 years of coaching at the Kauai Veterans Center on Jan. 4.
Today is the last day to purchase tickets for $20 at the Pono Market in Kapaa and the Deja Vu Surf at the Kukui Grove Center.
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