For Life: A coach’s love

Sports

Marcus Mariota admits he lost some confidence when his time with the Tennessee Titans came to an end following the 2019 season.

Mariota was the second overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft and played five seasons for the team that selected him, but wasn’t able to come to terms on an extension with the franchise. Instead, the Titans let him walk, and Mariota went on to sign with Las Vegas Raiders.

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That same year, Mariota’s quarterback coach at Saint Louis, Vince Passas, also relocated to Las Vegas to focus on starting his own training venture. Mariota and Passas began to train with each other regularly again.

“We just got back to work and his whole thing was just never think about throwing a football, he was just very adamant about developing my natural motion again and for a couple years now, being here in Vegas, I feel great,” Mariota said. “He’s gotten my confidence back in my throwing and very appreciative of what he’s done for me and I think he’s helped get my game back to where it needs to be.”

Mariota remembers meeting Passas for the first time, not knowing he’d gained a mentor for life.

“When I first met coach Vinny, I had no idea that his relationship would be what it is today,” Mariota said.

“I can remember just going out to the field and he had a bunch of guys out there already and really, I just kind of jumped in line. I just followed everybody else in front of me. Coach Vinny at the end of the day, he was very adamant about talking to each guy, saying what he did good, what he did wrong, what he can do better, and from that point on, I was just hooked. Coach Vinny even to this day now, I work with him and he makes me a better player and I appreciate that.”

No matter how far Hawaii’s prep football stars end up going, most of them will never forget the coaches that helped get them there. The relationship between Hawaii’s high school football standouts and the coaches that molded them are the focus of this week’s Cover2 For Life segment.

Kailua coach Joseph Hau’oli Wong was a four-year starting offensive lineman at BYU before getting picked by the Miami Dolphins in the seventh round of the 1999 NFL Draft. He credits his success at the next level to Alex Kane, the late former coach for the Surfriders.

“I don’t think I could come close to him,” Wong said of Kane. “We call coach Kane, his name in high school was ‘The Man.’ He was everything to a lot of us. He was a no nonsense guy. I don’t think I’ll be the player, man or coach that I am today (without him).

“I grew up in Waimanalo. I came from a single family home. I went to the same school that they go to. I went to a Division I program, I started for four years, I went on to the NFL just so that they can see it’s possible.”

Meanwhile, at the current college level, University of Hawaii All-Conference linebacker Darius Muasau credits Rod York with his growth and development.

“Some of the things he instilled in my personality is bringing the right attitude, doing our job, whether it’s on the field or off the field and executing whatever we’re doing in life, whether it’s our homework or our job on the field,” Muasau said.

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