The 2021 season for the University of Hawaii softball team got underway with a trio of exhibition games against Chaminade last weekend, marking the start of head coach Bob Coolen’s 30th season at the helm.
The 63-year-old Coolen was an assistant coach for the UH softball team for two seasons before getting promoted to the head coaching position, meaning the Massachusetts native has spent more than half his life on the islands.
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Coolen has led the Rainbow Wahine to 11 postseason appearances, including a spot in the 2010 College World Series. He also surpassed 1,000 career wins in the 2019 season. But in addition to winning, perhaps his biggest impact on the program is the changes he’s worked to make at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium. The team’s home venue is going through a round of renovations that would give the Wahine various amenities.
“The transformation of the stadium is incredible. They’re making us a mini stadium with a clubhouse for players, locker room, showers, three coach’s offices, a lounge for the players,” Coolen told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “We will have a lot of the amenities that we need. We have new lights, LED lights that we put in and illuminate which are much different than our lights that we received a couple of years ago. But the update of the scoreboard is great, you can see replays, you can see past events, you can see home runs being hit and the players, all they do is stare at the scoreboard the whole time because media relations and marketing are doing a great job at keeping the board present and they like to see their picture on the board. It’s something that fits in real well with the upgrades that are going on.
“I’m really excited about getting outside of the athletic department and sitting over at the stadium and doing my work from there and just contemplating and looking out at the field as things develop and all of this gets done in July, August, September, whenever they project it’s gonna get done.”
When RWSS reaches its final form in the summer, Coolen believes it could very well be time for him to step down and enjoy the view from above.
“When I first got here in 1990 January, there were two trenches on the field. I’ve seen the development. I can’t thank Brian Taniguchi enough to give us all that money for the first renovation in ’98, the batting cage out in right field in 2001, all the money he gave for the lights that we had up until this year, now we’re LED, reducing the cost out there,” Coolen said. “But once that facility is done, it might be time for me to just hang it up and say, ‘I did my job, and now it’s time to move on,’ because I’m getting to that age where I’m thinking about retirement and walking into the sunset and enjoying the games from upstairs rather than downstairs.”