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Key to Wade's tenure will be recruiting the ILH


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POSTED: Saturday, May 23, 2009

Before yesterday, my images of Charlie Wade were all about intensity and savvy.

No one can forget Hawaii's new men's volleyball head coach as the no-nonsense assistant, slamming high-velocity shots at Wahine players in pre-match warm-ups in the 1990s. Dave Shoji's muscle, his strong right hand.

Then there was 10 years ago, in Gainesville, Fla. That's when I learned Wade's a smart guy, too.

It wasn't anything on the court or preparing for the regional championship match against Florida that stood out. But Charlie put his poolroom IQ on display; he and Rich Sheriff hustled some frat boys out of the gas money for their Ferraris (when I quietly reminded them I had to live there at least a few more months, Charlie and Rich let the Gators keep their pink slips).

Wade is in his mid-40s now and married with children, so we can assume what little time he has away from volleyball will likely be spent with them, not moonlighting as a pool shark. No time for young-man shenanigans, there's a program to revive.

Now he exudes a vibe of maturity — but still a passion for the game, and the challenge ahead.

Is that a touch of gray in the hair?

Three years as a head coach and a growing family, that'll add to anyone's seriousness quotient.

Wade needs to work fast. Men's volleyball is in dire need of CPR.

“;It's impossible for anyone to make me feel more pressure,”; he said.

They spoke of the glory days yesterday at Wade's introductory news conference.

What does it tell you when the athletic director and the new coach mention a guy who danced in the aisles during the years of the packed houses, and not the players? Men's volleyball in its heyday was about the overall atmosphere, not just the wins and losses. Wade understands that.

Now that UH has its new coach in place, his first recruit should be Alan “;The Rubberband Man”; Hackbarth. Give him a lifetime free pass to all Hawaii volleyball matches.

As for players, can Wade recruit Punahou and the rest of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu?

Realistically, though, is there anyone who can keep the local volleyball talent home when the top prospects go to schools that encourage all the students to go to the mainland for college?

Every now and then, a baseball, football or basketball player slips through that way of thinking and into a UH uniform (it is often an extenuating circumstance, though, like Bobby Nash, son of then-assistant basketball coach Bob Nash).

Shoji often gets the top-notch talent to stay home, such as Kanoe Kamana'o.

Perhaps Mike Sealy, another Shoji assistant, could've done the same as the new men's coach. Ditto for Scott Wong, a Punahou graduate. The other finalist, Tino Reyes, was a Mike Wilton assistant, guilty by association. But guilty of what exactly, other than being the former coach's No. 2? Many would've liked to have seen Reyes get a shot based on his loyalty, a la Bob Nash.

Wade's record as a head coach is questioned, a less-than-stellar 38-46 at Pacific. His record as a men's head coach would be questioned, too, but he doesn't have one.

So Charlie Wade has found his way home.

Now we'll see if he can keep the players here, too.

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Reach Star-Bulletin sports columnist Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), his “;Quick Reads”; blog at starbulletin.com, and twitter.com/davereardon