Coach Seki left legacy at Pearl City
After a lifetime of teaching, Mel Seki retired from the Department of Education at 55 only to surface once again as ... a teacher.
Seki, who went from Little League baseball coach to Pearl City High School varsity coach, died recently after a long bout with cancer. Before his death, though, he left a legacy on the diamond. Seki's knowledge and teaching talent were prodigious. In 2006, the Chargers went 23-7, won their second Oahu Interscholastic Association title under Seki and reached the final of the state championships.
Seki, then 71, was voted Star-Bulletin coach of the year. He announced his retirement from coaching shortly after that.
Family and friends will gather for his funeral tomorrow. Visitation will begin at 5 p.m. at Mililani Mortuary Mauka Chapel. A memorial service will follow at 6:30 p.m.
A soft-spoken demeanor and lots of patience made Seki known as the gentleman coach. On the diamond, his friends were many.
"He never bad-mouthed anyone," current Pearl City coach Gary Nakamoto said.
Nakamoto was a student of Seki's at Pearl City Highlands Intermediate School. Seki went on to become a principal, and by then, Nakamoto had become a Little League coach along with his mentor.
In 1993, Seki was in the high school ranks and asked Nakamoto to become Pearl City's junior varsity coach. Seki quietly retired after the '06 season and got to see his second grandchild on the mainland.
More recently, he attended the Sugar Mill Baseball Classic, but showed few signs of illness.
"He kept it very low key," Sakamoto said.
"Mel was very humble, a very good teacher," he recalled. "It goes back to when Mr. (Francis) Funai used to come out (to Pearl City) and do clinics. Mel always kept that same philosophy."
His contemporaries in the coaching fraternity included those many years younger.
"Coach Seki was one of my favorites to talk to about the way it was done back in the day," former Mililani coach Dean Sato said. "Coach would also speak very highly about two of his favorites, Coach Francis Funai and Coach Herb Okamura. We always spent time talking about how they did things, and their amazing stories and drills that produced kids on Kalaepohaku slopes.
"We will surely miss him."