Maui Sports

Chow to Introduce Assistant Coaches to Downtown Athletic Club

January 11, 2012, 8:25 AM HST
* Updated January 11, 8:29 AM
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Hawaii head football coach Norm Chow. UH Athletics photo.

By Rodney S. Yap

University of Hawaii head football coach Norm Chow plans to introduce the members of his coaching staff to the public for the first time today at the Downtown Athletic Club’s inaugural lunch event.

Chow is expected to be joined by seven of his assistant coaches at the Hukilau Honolulu restaurant, starting from noon to 1:30 p.m.

The Downtown Athletic Club is a non-profit organization founded by seven Honolulu businessmen, including Keith Amemiya, the former Hawaii High School Athletic Association Executive Director.

“For weeks, Hawaii sports fans have eagerly anticipated news on Coach Chow’s coaching staff, and we’re excited to unveil his staff tomorrow,” Amemiya said. “Like the Downtown Athletic Club, Coach Chow represents a fresh new era in Hawaii sports. We’re excited to provide this opportunity for local sports fans to meet the coach and his staff, and also to learn about the goals of our organization.”


Chow added four more assistant coaches to his inaugural coaching staff on Tuesday, announcing offensive assistants Tommy Lee, Keith Uperesa, and Chris Wiesehan and defensive assistant Daronte Jones. Earlier this week the coach announced the hiring of offensive assistant Phillip Rauscher and defensive assistants Lewis Powell and Tony Tuioti.


Chow is expected to fill the remaining two vacancies on his staff by next week. Insiders are saying Chow plans on making current Jacksonville Jaguars defensive backs coach Thom Kaumeyer the next UH defensive coordinator.

“This group of coaches have years of experience at every level of football,” said Chow, who returned to Hawaii for the first time since getting hired last month. “Our players will be able to learn from the very best in the business. They have proven track records and have been successful everywhere they’ve been. We’re very fortunate to have them.”

In addition to Amemiya, the other notable founders of the Downtown Athletic Club are Peter Ho, Kalowena Komeiji, Duane Kurisu, Don Murphy, Raymond Ono and Kurt Osaki. The club hosts monthly luncheons and other events, providing a venue to discuss, debate, support, enhance and raise awareness for local sports. The inclusive club hopes to create a bridge for corporations, community organizations and government to facilitate and promote sports throughout the state.


Offensive lineman Kiha Sai of Kamehameha Schools Kapalama.


In recruiting news, defensive lineman Kiha Sai of Kamehameha Schools Kapalama said he has accepted a football-scholarship offer from Chow.

“He asked, and I said, ‘Hell, yes,’ ” said Sai, who is 6 feet 4 and 315 pounds. “I want to stay home and get that Chow legacy started, with the Hawaii boys staying home.”

Sai had previously made an oral commitment to Utah, where Chow was the offensive coordinator. He said he was not recruited by UH until after Chow was hired on Dec. 22.

Sai is reportedly Chow’s second recruit to commit to Hawaii, the first was offensive lineman Leo Koloamatagi (6-5, 270) of Sacred Heart Prep School in San Francisco.

And finally, former Ohio State quarterback Taylor Graham (6-4, 215) has transferred to Hawaii and is already enrolled at the Manoa campus. He will have to sit out one year but will have two years of eligibility remaining. Graham loves the “West Coast” offense and felt Chow was a better fit for his style versus Buckeyes new head coach Urban Meyer.

Below is more information on Chow’s four coaching hires Tuesday:

* Tommy Lee, 70, has more than 40 years of coaching experience at the high school, collegiate, and professional ranks. Most recently, he spent seven years as the head coach at Montana-Western, an NAIA school in Dillon, Mont., where he coached from 2001-07 and won two Frontier Conference Championships.

Born and raised on O’ahu, Lee also served as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Utah, Montana, Portland State, the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, and World Football League’s San Antonio Riders. He also spent 11 years at Willamette, including the final nine as head coach. A graduate of Saint Louis School in Honolulu, Lee also spent three years as its head coach.

* Keith Uperesa, 56, spent the past two seasons as the offensive line coach at Nicholls State. The Honolulu native also coached the line at UNLV, Utah, USC, and was offensive coordinator at Idaho State.

The Punahou School and BYU graduate began his coaching career at Snow College, where he coached the offensive line and worked his way up to head coach. As a player, Uperesa was an all-WAC tackle at BYU and played three years in the NFL.

* Chris Wiesehan coached the past two seasons with the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers as its receivers coach. The St. Louis, Mo., native also has experience coaching tight ends and offensive line.

His previous stops include UCLA (tight ends), Syracuse (offensive line), James Madison (offensive line), the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers (offensive assistant), Northern Arizona (receivers and offensive line), Buffalo (receivers and offensive line), Notre Dame (tight ends), Purdue (tight ends), and Fort Hays State (receivers).

* Daronte Jones, 33, recently completed his first season as defensive backs coach with the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes in 2011. Prior to that, he spent one season as UCLA’s cornerbacks coach following a five-year stint as assistant head coach/defensive coordinator at Bowie State (Md.). At Bowie State, Jones’ defensive was known as an aggressive, attacking unit that ranked No. 1 in Division II in total defense in 2009, allowing only 217.7 yards per game. He was also the team’s pro liaison.

Jones’ resume also includes stops at Nicholls State, at a pair of Louisiana high schools and as a graduate assistant at Lenoir-Rhyne College.

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