HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Damien names Lee AD
He played for the last Saint Louis team to lose to the Monarchs
Pohai Lee knows Damien can beat Saint Louis in football. He experienced it first-hand 24 years ago.
The difference now is it is Lee's job to help make it happen again.
Lee, Damien's new athletic director, played slotback for Saint Louis the last time the Monarchs beat the Crusaders, twice in 1982.
It was his uncle Cal's first year in his second shot as Saint Louis head coach, and Pohai's father Tommy and uncle Ron were assistant coaches. Saint Louis took its bumps and bruises on the way to a 3-8-1 season, including two losses to Damien. But the next year the Crusaders won the Prep Bowl, starting the longest dynasty in the history of Hawaii high school football.
"I don't remember (losing to Damien)," Pohai Lee said with a laugh yesterday. "But I remember we played every game tough. I will use that though. We need all the motivation we can get."
Although Saint Louis and Damien have gone in opposite directions when it comes to football success, the schools have a lot in common. They are both small all-boys' college-prep Catholic institutions that compete in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu.
And Damien -- where about 75 percent of the 540 students play sports -- has recently shown signs of turning the corner athletically. Three seniors on last fall's 4-6 football team signed letters of intent to play Division I college football.
"The kids are there," Lee said. "We just have to work hard to help them succeed."
Technically, Lee lacks experience in athletic administration. But Damien principal Mike Weaver said Lee's broad background in other areas of sports leadership and teaching more than makes up for it.
"The fact that he has a master's in educational administration means he has the academic background," Weaver said. "And he has a lot of coaching experience, and there is almost always some administrative responsibility in coaching."
Lee, 40, is a teacher at Maui Waena Intermediate School and offensive coordinator for the Baldwin High School football team.
He replaces Herb Lloyd, whose contract was not renewed after 21 years, and Mike Normand, who was co-AD the past year. The school declined to provide information on why Lloyd was not retained, citing personnel and privacy issues. Normand might remain at the school.
Weaver said a selection committee and president Br. Gregory O'Donnell liked Lee's varied résumé. He was chosen from among 16 candidates.
"One of the biggest plusses for us from my point of view is his experience covers middle school, high school and collegiate coaching and teaching, especially since we've had middle school a couple years now," Weaver said.
Prior to Baldwin, Lee was the intermediate school head football coach at Saint Louis from 1998 to 2001. The Crusaders went 21-6-2.
He was also quarterbacks coach at Western Oregon and Thomas Moore in Kentucky.
Lee's father is head football coach at Montana-Western. His uncles are assistants at the University of Hawaii. All three were prominent local high school coaches.
His father was a college coach on the mainland, but came home to help Cal and Ron get the Crusaders going in 1982.
Pohai Lee received an honorary diploma from Saint Louis, and returned to graduate at South Salem High in Oregon. He went on to play receiver at Portland State and Montana, where his father was coaching.
Lee said he doesn't feel pressure to succeed because of his family's legacy.
"I'm not gravitating toward that, it's not something I think about," he said. "I'll just do what I've done at every other job, just do the best I can," Lee said. "I am proud of what my dad and uncles have done."