HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL
Damien elevates Derby to head baseball coach
Eleven months ago, Damien assistant coach Terry Derby was the odd man out, suspended by the Interscholastic League of Honolulu for a year.
Today, he is the head baseball coach of the Monarchs, succeeding longtime guru John Matias Sr.
Matias stepped down recently after 14 seasons at the helm.
"We want to thank Coach Matias and his staff for their years of service, all the work they did for the students of Damien Memorial High School," Damien athletic director Pohai Lee said.
"It's kinda bittersweet replacing Coach Matias," said Derby, 45, who coached under Matias in the 2004 season. "He's a great man. Coach was always patient. I have some great shoes to fill."
Passing the baton to Derby, Lee said, was not a difficult task.
"We promoted from within. Terry has extensive background," said Lee, a former teacher and football assistant coach at Baldwin. Lee's first day at Damien was July 1, but he learned plenty about Derby before arriving in Honolulu. Derby is Lee's first coaching hire.
"Being on Maui, I got to speak with youth league coaches who competed against Terry and they always felt that he has great knowledge and his teams were always prepared to play," he said. "He was kind of on all of our minds, really."
The ups and downs of high school baseball have been felt dramatically by Derby. Last summer, he was pinpointed for talking to two Mililani High School players about Damien.
The two players, Darby Ventura and Dustin Antolin, were sons of people Derby considers family. Derby coached both players in youth baseball. Ventura wound up at Damien, while Antolin stayed at Mililani. Both will be juniors next season, though Ventura sat out his sophomore season per ILH rules.
Before the suspension, Damien appealed to the ILH, but the disciplinary action stood. Derby, an assistant at Pearl City for about a decade before piloting youth teams, was out of the game for the first time in 20 years.
"I went through a lot. I've learned to be a little more careful, how you choose your words. Now, I try to keep a low profile, and if people have questions, I just refer them to the school. I can't elaborate on stuff 'cause I don't want to get in trouble," Derby said. "That's for all the coaches; we have to be careful."
Derby's career at the University of Hawaii was highlighted, in part, by a record-setting five-stolen-base effort against Kearney State on March 6, 1983. He played two seasons in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system after being drafted in 1983.
He has been a veteran coach of youth baseball. In 2004, Derby guided Mililani to a runner-up finish in the PONY World Series (13-14). Four years prior to that, he guided the Mililani Mustang squad (9-10) to a third-place performance at the 2000 World Series.
Lee has high hopes for the Monarch baseball program.
"I like his enthusiasm and energy. If any coach has to sit for a year, they're itching to get going again," Lee said.
"Things happen for a reason sometimes, I just look at it that way," he said. "I look at coaching baseball as teaching. I like to show that we can do things well. That's the high I get, watching these kids perform, and that's what I missed most."
The ILH has been dominated by nearly every other team at one time or another, but has rarely had a title chase by Damien.
"For me, there's really no (championship) timetable, but as far as work ethic, we're gonna really work hard," Derby said. "We have lots of good, young talent. I think we can do something good. I don't know how much we're going to win, but we'll work hard."