New Year, New Coaches

Teams get acquainted with their seasoned mentors

Sports Writer: Eric Vega

Photographer: Adrienne Gurbindo

As September draws to a close, summer has finally ended, and the back-to-school mentality has already taken hold of students. For some, it maybe a magical moment for a fresh start. You can meet new people, take new classes, succeed in new achievements. We welcome the student to this wonderful University and wish you great luck and adventure. You are one step closer to achieving the ultimate goal of graduating from University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Walking around campus every day gives you the chance to interact with plenty of faces, both familiar and fresh. As people get settled into their busy schedules, many take advantage of this time to explore new clubs and opportunities to engage the University, and also the community as a whole.

Student-athletes, meanwhile, have already begun kicking into high gear for their new seasons. It’s at this time that teams start to get acquainted with their new teammates and begin to build chemistry. They also find themselves testing their off-season programs.

For a few teams, such as Men’s and Women’s Soccer and Softball, new leadership will be at the helm of the upcoming 2016-2017 season. With the departure of Lancer Thompson as Director of Soccer for UH Hilo, Assistant Coach Gene Okamura has been serving as the interim head coach.

As for Softball, Coach Peejay Brun took her success as a coach to the Texas State, where before her two-year stint at UH Hilo, she spent eight years as a coach. She has now taken on the head coaching position there. The University will be replacing Brun with a familiar face to the program, Callen Perreira. This is not the first time Perreira has coached at UH Hilo: he was the head coach of the softball team 1990 to 2009, and had 18 consecutive winning seasons while earning an impressive record of 576-345-3. Because of this, many local sports observers consider him one of the most successful coaches in UH Hilo’s history.

Okamura is well known in the local soccer community. A native of Hilo, Okamura is also a graduate from Waiākea High School in 2006. Four years later, he earned his B.A. in Administration of Justice from UH Hilo. He went on to serve as the head coach of Kamehameha Schools-Hawaii Girls’ Varsity Soccer team. He joins a promising Vulcan recruiting class - representing both Men’s and Women’s Soccer - whose talents, if utilized properly, could contribute to an early success for Okamura and the Vulcans.

Gene Okamura

With these new additions, the University aims to create a better environment of success for its athletes. The hope, of course, is that with these hires, the athletic department has taken a turn in the right direction on improving the programs offered at UH Hilo. A top priority of the department, as a result, is to focus on bringing the community back to where it was in better seasons.