Meeting Kailah Gates-Coyaso, Chaminade Softball’s All-Conference Swiss-Army Knife 

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED AUG 21, 2023

HONOLULU — Kailah Gates-Coyaso is a softball coach’s dream player. Since suiting up for Chaminade, she has played seven of the nine positions on the softball field during her time at Chaminade, only leaving pitching and first base out of her positional juggling.  

Versatility has been an exceptional quality to bring to the table, but it isn’t the only type of juggling that the 2019 Waianae graduate has in her arsenal.

Back in her time with the Seariders, Gates-Coyaso would find herself trying to learn how to juggle during down time of practices. It was a silly exercise, but something that she found to help her hand-eye coordination and help her challenge her teammates in a different fashion.

“I kind of taught myself how to juggle,” Gates-Coyaso said with a sheepish grin. “I just started doing it, impressed my teammates… [I would] challenge my teammates to see if they could juggle longer or faster… but it was only me that could juggle.” 

It was an activity that the utility player brought to Chaminade with her, as you can still see her juggling off to the side on occasion as her skills have improved. She said practice with all different objects has helped her hand-eye coordination improve and stay sharp, an important skill to have when taking on the role Gates-Coyaso does for the Silverswords.

She began her college career behind the dish, proving to be more than capable of overseeing a pitching staff and controlling the running game. The former Waianae star got an abbreviated taste of college action during a COVID-19 shortened 2020 season, playing in 11 games, and suiting up in catcher gear for nine of those contests. 

The Chaminade staff began to experiment with Gates-Coyaso more defensively in 2021 before leaning all the way into turning the athlete into a super-utility and chess piece to fit in the lineup every day going forward. She has played in 85 of 87 games for the Silverswords over the past two seasons, the most recent of which resulted in a 2nd-team All-PacWest selection for Gates-Coyaso. 

Despite less than 50 percent of her career starts in the field coming behind home plate, the versatile defender ranks seventh all-time for catchers in Swords’ history with 19 runners caught stealing. Of course, that level of success matches her mindset and her love for the defensive side of the game.

“I enjoy every position that I am able to get people out,” she answered when asked about her favorite spot to play on the field. “I just want to be making plays, I just want to be in charge… I love playing defense.” 

Her time at Chaminade has been nothing short of enjoyable, she explained. With the ability to stay home and close to her support system, her focus turned to being a positive example for local kids and showing that student-athletes can stay home and still be successful.

With that in mind, an inspiration for her future came to the business major on a post-college path and game plan.

“My main focus is to give back to my community after. I just want to give my knowledge to them, both business-wise and with softball,” Gates-Coyaso said.

One way she’s thought about combining the two? Giving back to less-fortunate kids who may need equipment and funding for opportunities they could use to succeed.

“In this world, everything is so expensive, and I feel like there are a lot of restrictions of kids playing sports just because they don’t have the funds [to play]. I don’t think [money issues] should be the reason why they can’t play the sport they desire to play,” the Waianae graduate proudly stated.

Gates-Coyaso further discussed her future dreams and aspirations, being introduced to baseball before softball (thanks to her dad), her initial hesitation at the switch to softball, the process of teaching herself the catcher position junior year of high school and much more during the conversation.

Kailah Gates-Coyaso juggles the struggles of being a student-athlete extremely well. She has only improved on the softball field, been a multi-time honoree for academic achievements and was selected as one of the best players in the entire PacWest in the 2023 season.

For some, it might be too much juggling to ask for one person. For Gates-Coyaso?

Well, she has always enjoyed juggling anyway.