‘Ride or Die’: UH Football Associate Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Thomas Sheffield Brings the Energy, Joins ‘Wake Up in The Den’ for Aloha Friday 

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JULY 22, 2023

HONOLULU — From Waco, Texas to Honolulu, Hawai’i (and a bunch of stops in between), University of Hawai’i football associate head coach Thomas Sheffield has committed a large part of his life to his craft.

He had to. 

It goes hand-in-hand with his messaging and strong roots in his dedication to those he considers family.

That’s the “Ride or Die” lifestyle he preaches. You can’t be part of the #BRADDAHHOOD if you’re only half-in. It’s a big part of why ‘Bows head coach Timmy Chang wanted him to come to the islands with him so badly.

Coach Thomas Sheffield’s “BRADDAHHOOD” tattoo

Getting Sheffield to Mānoa? That took some coaxing or “inspiration” from Chang.

The two coaches had just made a move to Colorado State a couple weeks prior, following head coach Jay Norvell from Nevada when the Hawai’i head coaching job opened. Chang knew he wanted the job and that he needed “Coach Sheff” to be his right-hand man.

It was not as easy of a decision for Sheffield, who had just bought a house with his wife, Emily, and three kids, just down the street from Chang and family. When Sheffield started to get cold feet late about leaving Colorado State so quickly, a pep-talk from the legendary Hawai’i quarterback brought the high-energy special teams coordinator all the way on board.

Well, that and having the ability to listen to his wife, who told him that he needed to take the job with Chang.

That was just one of many stories that the ‘Bows energetic associate head coach shared with listeners on the July 21 Aloha Friday edition of ‘Wake Up in The Den with Ku’ulei Agbayani’.

Sheffield heaped praise on his wife throughout the appearance, telling their love story that has produced almost 10 years of happy marriage and three children so far while hitting a bunch of different stops across the country.

Behind his love for football, he has needed an iron-woman to help support along the way. Thanks in part to the support from Emily, Sheffield has been able to focus more time and energy on his craft than he would’ve been able to otherwise. 

The hope (and plan) is to make sure Hawai’i is home for a while. To do that, success has to come to a ‘Bows football program that is itching to reclaim its popularity from the early 2000s. 

He certainly knows how to coach productive special teams units. In two seasons at Nevada, he coached up multiple all-Mountain West selections and had a unit that blocked six kicks during his tenure. 

He coached Jamie Gillan, current punter for the New York Giants, while at Arkansas-Pine Bluff to a pair of all-conference selections and helped refine the placement skills of the guy fans dubbed “The Scottish Hammer”. APB was Sheffield’s first full-time position in his coaching career after multiple graduate assistant stints elsewhere.

The ‘Bows hope to see strides made in each phase of the game in year two of the system that Chang, Sheffield and company have put into place. 

Much has been made of Hawai’i’s return to the “Run N’ Shoot” offense, but the staff is excited about what the dynamic athletes brought into the program this offseason can do on defense and specials too.

Don’t sleep on the returning guys, either. Tylan Hines continues to be a name people expect to pop during the season, despite not being included on the preseason All-Mountain West teams. The ‘Bows only got one player, newcomer CB Cam Stone, named to those teams.

Sheffield wasn’t pleased with being rated as lowly in the preseason poll for the Mountain West from earlier in the week but understood that the program must show the improvements they believe they’ve made against opponents after a 3-10 season in year one.

To the ‘Bows, the end-of-year rankings and teams will matter far more.

Sheffield talked deeper about his coaching journey, how he ended up with the special teams despite a desire to just coach offense, his family, and the dynamic of being a “girl dad” who is wrapped around his daughter’s finger, along with many other topics.

High energy from the very start of the appearance, associate head coach Thomas Sheffield can’t fake any part of who he is. He loves his family, he loves his football, and he loves to show how committed he is to those around him.

Just ask him about his “Ride or Die” tattoo. That should be all the proof needed for questions about his commitment. 

You can catch ‘Wake Up in The Den with Ku’ulei Agbayani’ live every weekday morning from 8-9 a.m. HT on 95.1 FM, AM 760 and streaming on hawaiisportsradio.com. The show is available after recording ere most podcasts are, along with past OIA and HPU broadcasts and older interviews.

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