Hawaii Prep Academy is a small, majority boarding school on the Big Island with a history of a few NFL football coaches and players. The program has been languishing the past few years, but things are changing in Waimea.
Make your way to the Kona side of the Big Island; detour from the beach to the base of Mount Kohala – come across Hawaii Preparatory Academy after school gets out, when practice starts.
HPA athletics are well known for some things, such as soccer. As for football? Not as much. With one conference win in the past two seasons, the time for a program turnaround begins now.
“We’re not here for participation awards. We’re here to win,” said HPA head coach Kalika Maiava. “We’re here to own the BIIF Division II. And we’re going to move on to a state championship.”
As the team’s second coach in the past three years, Maiava has already earned the trust of his team, and vice versa.
“The way they’ve handled everything, the adversity and obstacles that they’ve dealt with, it’s amazing,” Maiava said.
Seniors now, as sophomores Ka Makani had their head football coach Daniel Te’o-Nesheim die from an apparent overdose of painkillers soon after the 2017 season.
“It was hard. Very hard,” Makani said.
He was diagnosed posthumously with CTE, having sustained roughly 100 concussions in his playing career.
Te’o-Nesheim was a star at HPA, then at the University of Washington and played four years in the NFL.
Less than two years later, a misty campus hints at a promising season. Hawaii Prep is already 2-0 this year.