Through tough times, Kailua remains a field of brotherly love

For Life

On any given day in Kailua, you might find a specific pair of brothers driving around town or body boarding at the beach. 

But maybe the place where they feel most at home is the football field with their coach, to whom they have a special connection.

A relationship between brothers has its ups and downs. Kaniala and Keoni Williams are no exception.

“Sometimes me and him just go cruising around. I taught him how to drive. Yep, taught him how to drive,” said Kaniala.

The two are three years apart, both receivers and defensive backs for Kailua. One is a senior starter, the other is a freshman on junior varsity.

“(Keoni is) very mature for a freshman. Body type, mentality of the game, and his skill set is much more than what you would expect from an incoming freshman. And then on the other side, his brother, Kaniala, is like a general. He’s a student of the game. He’s one of our leaders as well. I expect a lot out of him,” said Hauoli Wong, Surfriders head coach.

Two years ago, Dan Williams, the boys’ dad, got sick. 

“It was very sad, because he was always a happy man. He was always outgoing and very active, so when we heard he got sick, everyone was down, because he just stayed home a lot. He was tired and sore. He was always in pain, so there wasn’t really much we could do,” said Kaniala.

After Dad passed, Kaniala transferred back from St. Francis to be there for his family.

“Kept me up when I was feeling down, just there for me when I needed someone to talk to,” said Keoni. “I couldn’t really focus and stuff, but just had to keep it together. My dad would have wanted it like that.”

Wong is a longtime friend of the family.

“I kind of felt like I needed to come home, and he was right there waiting for me to come, so it was an easy transition,” said Kaniala.

“It’s like full circle. I mean like, I grew up with his dad. I coached with him as a younger understudy when we were coaching baseball and softball, and now that I have the chance to give back to his kids,” said Wong. “He’s no longer here, but at the same time too, I push them just as hard as I used to see the dad push them, push his sisters and whatnot, and I expect nothing but excellence from both of them.”

The logo for the Surfriders resembles that of Superman. The iconic S could stand for stability, in this case. That’s what the boys have, especially out on the field.

“Just like something that I’m used to, because there’s a lot of responsibility being the older brother, so it’s like, when they keep pushing me, it reflects off me onto my brother. I push him, help him get what he wants in life,” said Kaniala.

In Kailua, there’s plenty of tough love to go around.

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