Coach Wong Leads Surfrid­ers

MidWeek Islander (Windward Oahu) - - Windward Oahu Sports - By JACK DANILEWICZ

When it comes to coach­ing, there was re­ally only one desti­na­tion on Joseph Wong’s radar. That would be Kailua High School, of course, where he was a stand­out player in the early 1990s.

“Kailua is prob­a­bly one of the only places I would have con­sid­ered,” said Wong, who re­cently was ap­pointed head foot­ball coach at Kailua. “Be­ing an alum­nus, Kailua is the school I rooted for. I want to give back to the place I came from.”

Wong is hardly a new­comer to coach­ing at Kailua, hav­ing spent the last nine years on out­go­ing coach Gary Rosolowich’s staff work­ing with the of­fense and, most re­cently, help­ing coach de­fense.

A 1994 Kailua grad­u­ate, he at­tended UH Manoa his fresh­man year be­fore trans­fer­ring to Brigham Young Univer­sity. His hard work at BYU paid off when he was picked by the Mi­ami Dol­phins in the 1999 NFL Draft. Wong also played for the Philadel­phia Ea­gles and Oakland Raiders. He saw coach­ing in his fu­ture be­fore he ended his play­ing ca­reer.

“When I re­tired, I wanted to get back to Hawaii,” he said. “I knew I wanted to coach, but I didn’t want to pur­sue coach­ing at the col­lege ranks or at the pro­fes­sional level. I had kids al­ready, and I knew the time taken away (from those coach­ing at the high­est lev­els).

“I’m very ex­cited. Coach­ing with Gary, I was able to be a part of the pro­gram and part of a lot of great young men from Kailua and Waimanalo. I’m very grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity.”

Wong played for the leg­endary Alex Kane in high school, and while at BYU, he de­vel­oped a strong re­la­tion­ship with cur­rent UH coach Norm Chow, who was then in the midst of a long suc­cess­ful run as BYU’s of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

“Alex Kane had a lon­glast­ing ef­fect on me — I look up to him as a coach,” Wong said. “There are a lot of coaches I have learned from, but I’d say the one I’m clos­est to is Norm. I was with him for three years, and we’ve al­ways touched base wher­ever he’s been, and I’ll be talk­ing to him a lit­tle more now that I’m a head coach. I re­spect him im­mensely.

“He’s more of a fa­ther fig­ure than a coach,” he added. “I ad­mire what he’s done in his ca­reer.”

Kailua was 2-7 last fall over­all, in­clud­ing a 2-4 mark in the OIA East Red un­der Rosolowich, who stepped down at sea­son’s end. The Surfrid­ers were one of the youngest teams in the league.

“We have a lot of young tal­ent. With a year un­der their belt, they’ll be vet­er­ans now. I’m look­ing for­ward to the up­com­ing sea­son and the chal­lenges ahead.”

Kailua was to of­fi­cially be­gin its off-sea­son work­outs Tues­day and will con­duct spring prac­tices in late May.

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