WAIMEA — As one door closes, another opens — Chad Delanoza is about to take on a new endeavor.
After serving the last 14 years as the varsity girls volleyball head coach for Waimea High School, Delanoza is now the school’s new varsity baseball head coach.
“I’m excited. It’s a new chapter,” Delanoza said Saturday.
Delanoza, 49, said he intended to end his career as the school’s volleyball coach, but inquired about the new position when it became open.
He believes six candidates were in the running for the job.
“There was talk on campus, but it never really dawned on me until I saw it in the paper,” he said. “When it came out, because we have a (youth baseball club), we were all discussing, ‘What should we do?’ Jr. Lazaro, he’s my assistant coach, he and I were thinking if we should apply. We had nothing to lose.”
Delanoza will be the school’s third baseball coach in three years.
Michael Rita was the head coach last season, serving for one year after having previously coached at Waimea for five seasons. Prior to this year, Rita last coached in 2013.
Waimea was 1-11 in the 2018 Kauai Interscholastic Federation baseball season.
Rita declined to comment Saturday.
In the few seasons before Rita, Larry Ephan was Waimea’s varsity baseball head coach.
Delanoza said he’s concerned if the upcoming squad has lingering doubts because of the coaching turnover in recent years, but he aims to work past that with the players sooner than later.
“Sometimes, people hang on to something that happened last year. I said, ‘Do know that I care. Do know that I’d like to help you get through that part. Do know that I don’t want to resurface that old stuff.’ But if that’s the reason why you cannot perform, because some of you are on your third or fourth coach in high school, sometimes you get in mindset of, ‘Here’s another coach again. What’s next?’” Delanoza said.
“They gave me their own personal insights and thoughts. I’m not going to reassure them that those things are not going to happen because it does happen. It’s all our natural feelings and emotions. But to know that if you’re hanging on to something that’s not allowing you to be your best, that’s a concern. That’s all I said. These guys need to know that you care about them.”
Delanoza has coached youth baseball for about the last 15 years, but has no prior coaching experience at the high school level.
He has also coached youth volleyball for about the last 20 years.
He was previously an assistant coach at Kauai High School and then became the varsity girls volleyball head coach at Waimea High School in 2004.
Delanoza won eight KIF girls volleyball championships in the last 14 years — the first in 2006 and the last just this past season.
“It was a tough thing. It was tough because (I had a hard time) trying to find the right time to leave a program that has done so well, and still has some great pieces, that they can continue with what they wanted to do,” Delanoza said. “As I looked at what was coming back — I only had four seniors, three of them were starters and three of them were on the KIF all-star team — I had a sense that this was the right time. That the nine players returning, they could still do the job.”
He added: “It’s really hard. You just don’t pick up the pieces and act as if everything is going to be OK. I mean, I told the kids that I’m always there. I’m not necessarily going to be there physically, but I’m always there. I get phone calls and texts. Some of them want to work out, come here and hang out. I think that’s due because of our relationship. … But I told them, ‘You will have new coach. You’ll have many teachers in life. You’ll pick and choose who you like, take bits and pieces from those, and you’ll become a better person.’”
Waimea’s junior varsity girls volleyball head coach Brandi Moises will succeed Delanoza next season. She was the JV head coach the last two seasons.
In her first season, Waimea’s JV team was unbeaten and had not lost a single set.
Moises couldn’t be reached for comment Saturday.
Delanoza said Moises is “the best person” to take over the program.
“When she never dropped a match her first year with only seven girls, you knew that she was something special,” he said of Moises. “You knew with seven girls, she did the job. This past year, she dropped a match here and there but still ended up the JV champion. Why wouldn’t you want her to carry the torch?
“In her first two seasons, she will have these (JV) girls as seniors and juniors. You do the math,” Delanoza continued. “(It’s as) smooth a transition as possible, the fact she coached them as freshmen and sophomores, and they’re now going to be juniors and seniors.”
Delanoza had held baseball workouts in the meantime with players who are available, but practices won’t officially begin until February.
He intends to hit the ground running. He does not envision the upcoming season as a trial run.
“We’re here from the get-go to compete. The end product may tell us whether it’s a dry run or not, or it may tell us about the effort we put in, but it’s going to give us a final product and it remains to be seen,” Delanoza said. “But we are putting in the work necessary to hopefully get a better ending than expected. There’s a lot of talent that’s went through this program. There’s a lot of talent now. Of course, the hardest job is to find the best nine to get out there and give your team the best chance to win.”
Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.