Talk Story: Sean Jardin

LIHUE — The Menehune Booster Club hosted its annual Menehune Legacy Hall of Honor banquet on Saturday, in which former star student-athletes of Waimea High School are celebrated.

One of this year’s inductees sat down with The Garden Island prior to the ceremony to talk about being honored at his alma mater on Kauai’s Westside.

“It’s just an honor and a privilege to be part of the Menehune legacy,” said honoree Sean Jardin.

Jardin, a former Menehune stand-out football running back and soccer forward who graduated from Waimea in 1997, talked story with TGI about some of his glory days donning the Blue and White, his stint as a coach, and receiving the accolade nearly a decade after graduating.

Before we get into it, how was your Easter? You said you were up in Kokee with your family.

It was very peaceful. The kids had a lot of fun finding eggs and running around.

We have a cabin up in Kokee that my grandfather built. I would say (it was built) 1946 or 1948. Built it himself.

I know that you played football and soccer. Did you play anything else?

I did football, soccer, baseball, track and golf.

How were you with the other sports?

Baseball, I played all my life. I wouldn’t say “the best,” but good enough to make the team and start. Track, I did the 4 x 1 and the 100 (meter dash).

What would you say was the highlight of your high school career?

The highlight of my high school career would probably be with football. From my freshman year to my senior year, I think we didn’t even lose one (Kauai Interscholastic Federation) game — from ‘93 to ‘97.

My freshman year was under coach Dana Kuapahi. Bob Saligumba also helped him.

Then sophomore year was Bay Dela Cruz. Bob Saligumba was also his assistant. They were my JV coaches my first two years.

And then my junior and senior years (varsity) were under Jon Kobayashi. And there’s a ton of assistants. He was a great coach.

I was a running back, free safety, punter and kicker, and kick returner.

And soccer?

I was a forward and a halfback. And I played varsity from my freshman year through senior year. My coach was Mark Kennet.

My most memorable moment playing soccer under coach Mark, I can’t get the facts exactly correct, but Waimea never won a soccer game for like 15 years they had a soccer team.

My freshman year we were on that team, and we beat Kapaa 1-0 at in Waimea Canyon School Park.

Coach Kennet was so happy. He called KITV, or some news, to let them know. And in my sophomore year, we won KIF. Sophomore and junior year, we won KIF. And then senior year, I broke my leg right before the championship.

Oh, man. That’s a bummer.

Yeah.

Did you play college a little bit?

Yeah. I played at Linfield College. It’s a four-year school in McMinnville, Oregon.

That’s actually the school that Coach Jon went to.

What did you study? And what did you play?

I got my degree in elementary education.

I played football my freshman through junior year. And senior year, I didn’t play again because I fractured my leg in junior year.

Oh, man. That’s tough luck.

Yeah. So, I just stick to the books and graduated on time.

And then came straight home. I didn’t even walk. I just came home, and they mailed me my diploma.

You didn’t walk? You missed home that much?

I always tell kids here, even when I was teaching and coaching, you got to move away to appreciate it. That’s why I came back.

So in 2001 you graduated and came back?

Yeah. And I was teaching from 2001 through 2005. I taught physical science and algebra. Coached JV football and JV boys soccer for two years.

Are you still involved with the programs at Waimea these days?

With my jobs after teaching — I also drive tour boats. I’m a licensed captain.

It was hard to keep up with my schedule and to coach. I’m the type where if I want to coach, I want to be there full time. With the job, I couldn’t.

I always get asked. I always tell them that if I can, then I will be there. But I can’t give them half-effort.

How tough was it to leave coaching?

Very. Very tough.

So, what do you do these days?

I work at Madsen. I’m a longshoreman.

What they call it, we load and discharge containers — freight — from the Mainland to Hawaii. Unload cars and whatever cargo comes to the islands.

How long have you been doing that?

Actually, I’ve been working there part time for a while. Now, I’ve been full time about six months.

You got kids? Are they into sports, too?

I have two stepdaughters. Breeze is 15, and Jeslie is 13. And my son, Napali, is 6.

My two girls go to school at Kamehameha Schools – Kapalama. They’re my stepdaughters, but I pretty much raised them. Breeze was like 4, something like that. That’s when I met my wife (Leina’ala). Pretty much they’re my own. But yeah, it’s tough. Girls are way harder than boys. (laughing)

Breeze paddles. Jeslie plays soccer, and she just got into softball. I had to go out and coach softball — show her how to play. Napali plays junior golf and baseball.

And your wife?

My wife is a kumu hula. So, that’s pretty much job, life, everything.

When did you find out about being inducted to the Waimea hall of honor?

I got wind of it last year when (Basilio Fuertes) invited me to watch — to kind of see what goes on. So, I caught wind of it last year.

Did Basilio kind of hint at you? Or did he tell you directly?

Mr. Fuertes is very straight-forward. He just told me, “Hey, Jardin. You’ve been nominated for hall of fame. So this year, show up to the banquet and see what happens.” I was just, “OK.” I was kind of shocked.

For those you don’t know, can you explain what this Menehune Legacy Hall of Honor is?

From what I know, it recognizes people who were outstanding athletes in the school, good people in the community, and people who helped put the school on the map.

So, you saw how it went last year. How do you feel about it now?

I wasn’t really nervous about it then. Now, I am. I mean, it’s an honor. I don’t how many thousands of athletes came out of the school.

I know there’s a lot who’s a lot better than me. It’s just an honor. Just nervous about the speech. (laughing)

OK. So, so that’s one of the things.

Yeah. That’s why Fuertes said come by and see what happens. He’s like, “You got to make a speech.”

Last year, it was cool. I got see (Richard Waalani). He got inducted.

And Carl Furutani, the old University of Hawaii baseball coach. He was there, too. And I didn’t even know he went to Waimea. It’s cool to see that.

It’s just funny. Waimea is so small, and these guys are all out there. It’s kind of cool. To see them, it’s like, “Wow.” Had no clue.

So, you graduated in ‘97. For the school to still remember you all these years later and to be part of something like this, what does that mean to you?

It’s just an honor and a privilege to be part of the Menehune legacy. Just hoping that my son or other kids that might know me, might look at that and kind of strive to become known as that, too.

It’s going to be nerve-wracking. But I’m just going to wing it, as they say. (laughing)

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