Kalani Simpson Sidelines

Kalani Simpson

Goo coached right
down to the end

WHEN the final seconds were gone, Vince Goo shook hands. And then he walked slowly back to his bench and gathered his team around him after a game in the Stan Sheriff Center for the final time.

And then the first lei came, and they never stopped.

Everyone in the arena stood.

He pointed at all his old players, waiting in line to give leis and kisses and hugs. All of them graduates.

"He is the best man that I have ever known," Basketball Booster Club president Louie Wai told the assembled crowd.

And the ceremony kept on. And the people stayed. The tribute continued.

Goo endured it stoically.

It had been a long run, and a good one. Reminders of it were all around. The players. The family. The video highlights on a big screen.

The uniformed team still around him, its sweat still not dried.

Milia Macfarlane broke down during her speech.

At last, Goo, the outgoing 17-year Hawaii Rainbow Wahine basketball coach, cracked a smile.

Vince Goo sat in the rocking chair they had given him, love all around.

In his final night, he had coached.

He cracked his hands together. He stalked the sidelines. He argued. He gestured. He yelled. Carrying! He motioned for carrying.

He still has the "Are you kidding me?" look at full strength. He can still convey disgust with a stance.

"Hey!" Goo said. "Call some fouls! Call some fouls out here."

He called the refs by name. He worked the room with passion. He had heartfelt talks with the guys in stripes.

He was still coaching, coaching with everything he had.

You could hear it.

UH did what it could to swell attendance. Senior citizens would be let in free. Just bring ID. All of Goo's former players were invited without admission charge, too. Just show your diploma.

But this was still women's basketball, and in a down year at that. And so, with 1,932 in attendance, the man who had wanted to go out quietly did so.

But there was a fight first, as the Wahine raged against the dying of the light. Janevia Taylor left Fresno State bodies scattered in her wake on one possession. Jade Abele sank shots she knew were good as soon as they left her hand. Trisha Nishimoto outraced the competition like a motorcycle weaving dangerously in and out of an H-1 jam.

Taylor flew through the air, early in the second half, landing hard and pounding the court with her fist.

Goo raced to the baseline to argue another call. The refs had no comeback. He won on appeal.

But in the end the rim had rattled one too many times. These Wahine were fighters, but they were young. Try as he might, with every exhortation and gesture and stare, Goo could not coach that ball through the hoop.

And then they fought back tears. The tears came because they had not been able to do it for him. Because it would never be this way again. It was Goo's final home game. The tears came because they felt like crying.

Everybody did.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at


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