HONOLULU – Hawai’i Pacific University’s Bryan Nakasone has decided to call it a career as head coach of the Sharks after 19 years leading the program.
“The Dean of PacWest Softball Coaches,” who completed his 28th year with the HPU softball program including his years as an assistant, is the program’s second-winningest head coach with a record of 561-336-2 (.624).
Jarnett Lono, co-head coach with Nakasone since the 2018 season, remains to take full control of the program.
Nakasone led HPU to six NCAA Division II Tournament appearances that included the 2010 NCAA Division II Championship with a 4-3 win over Valdosta State (Ga.) to cap a 50-8 season.
“The HPU ‘ohana owes a debt of gratitude for the many wonderful years of service by Coach Bryan,” said HPU Executive Director of Athletics and Community Relations Sam Moku. “He is a true champion, a great leader and mentor to our student-athletes. Our hearts are full of aloha for him in his transition.”
While stepping down from on-field coaching, Nakasone plans to still be involved as a volunteer for the Sharks and will assist in maintaining Howard Okita Field that he helped build over 26 years ago.
“It has been a joy to build and be a part of this outstanding program,” Nakasone said. “But even with our National Championship, national and regional tournament appearances, I’m the most proud of our mid-90 percent graduation rate of our players. We gave those kids an education using softball as a vehicle.”
Nakasone’s collegiate softball coaching career started as an assistant coach for the legendary Howard Okita in 1991 at then Hawai’i Loa College. The duo formed a strong bond on the way to the 1991 NAIA National Championship and beyond. When HPU-HLC merger came a year later, both were assistant coaches in 1993 before Okita was selected head coach and Nakasone the top assistant in 1994.
The tandem built a powerful program that five straight NAIA national tournaments followed by an NAIA regional and an NCAA Division II regional. They also won PacWest titles in 1999, 2000, and 2001.
“Coach O let me do everything I wanted to do in coaching. We really worked well together.”
Nakasone was promoted to co-head coach with Okita in 2002, where they led HPU to a combined 213-121-1 record in the next seven seasons with three more NCAA appearances and four 30-win seasons. In 2009, Nakasone became the head coach by himself when Okita stepped down into an assistant’s role.
HPU advanced to the NCAA’s three more times and won the 2010 National Championship under Nakasone who was named the National Coach of the Year, while the HPU coaching staff was selected as the National Coaching Staff of the Year.
Nakasone was selected the PacWest Conference Coach of the Year five consecutive seasons, in 2007 and 2008 with Okita, and in 2009,2010 and 2011. He was also the West Region Coach of the Year in 2010.
During his time as head coach, HPU had three All-American selections, five PacWest Pitchers of the Year, four PacWest Players of the Year, and 78 All-PacWest Conference choices.
“One of the coaches from the mainland came up to me and said ‘you are the most feared coach in the West Region.’ I told him that was the greatest complement I’ve received,” Nakasone beamed.
After the 2017 season, Nakasone once again became a co-head coach as former HPU All-American Lono joined him to lead the program.
“Jarnett has done a great job. She has it all. I’m leaving the program in great hands,” he added.
Nakasone coached at Punahou School and his alma mater Saint Louis School prior to starting his collegiate coaching career. He was also a firefighter, retiring as Deputy Chief of the Federal Fire Department.