Q&A with new Waianae head football coach Vince Nihipali

Q&A with new Waianae head football coach Vince Nihipali

Q&A with new Waianae head football coach Vince Nihipali

BY MICHAEL LASQUERO | HSRN
PUBLISHED APRIL 21, 2024

The new head football coach at Waianae has roots in the community with the hiring of Vince Nihipali, who was hired in early April.

Nihipali played pop-warner football for the Waianae Tigers before going on to star for the Kamehameha-Kapalama football team. He grew up watching the Seariders win nine OIA titles under Larry Ginoza, with the last championship coming in 1982.

Nihipali has an extensive coaching resume of over 25 years with his last coaching job being at Moanalua when Na Menehune reached the OIA Division I title game in 2021. Other stops include being an assistant at Mililani, Campbell, Kapolei, Kaimuki and at Western Oregon University.

Waianae went 1-8 last season in the Open Division, but will compete in Division I in 2024.

HSRN had a chance to catch up with Nihipali a few weeks after the school announced the hire.

Congratulations on being named the head coach at Waianae! What was the feeling and emotions like when you got the news?

“Getting the head coach position at my hometown high school that I idolized the head coach growing up was indeed a special feeling. I don’t think I missed a Waianae game from maybe 1980 till I ended up playing at Kamehameha my junior year in high school. It’s been surreal, really.

Does it feel a little special being back home in the community that you grew up in?

“Most definitely! The support (from) the people and the families that I grew up with has been amazing. Waianae is special, everything about the community is special.”

You have a pretty expansive coaching resume. What are some of the lessons that you take with you in some of those stops?

“Bringing in a staff that buys into the vision, are great with kids, are knowledgeable and have your back. You can trust (them) and (they) trust you (back).”

Who are some of your coaching mentors and inspiration?

“Two that I have worked with directly recently these past couple years (are) Amosa Amosa and Rod York. Both have taught me so much, I couldn’t thank them enough for what they have done. So much respect for those two.”

How would you describe your coaching style?

“Passionate, competitive, developmental and caring.”

Waianae has had a bit of a rough time in the Open Division, but now are in Division I. Is this the right tier for the Seariders or is the end goal to get back to the highest division?

“It’s the division we are in, so that’s what we will play. The end goal, just like at Moanalua, is to get back into the Open Division and be competitive there. First we have to take care of business where we are at, so we are just gonna get better daily and be the best we can be.”

What were some of the positives that you saw from the Seariders last season watching from afar?

“It was a young team with some very talented players on both varsity and JV. As always, they always play hard and with a lot of heart.”

What are the things that you want to improve on?

“Just to get better in everything we do. From showing up in the offseason, to the classroom, to the field, everyday improve.”

Who are some of the players that we should watch out for next season?

“There are a bunch actually. Running back Alika Idica is as explosive a back there will be in Division I. We have two talented returning quarterbacks in Maximus Kahalewai-Sapigao and George Mier, some great returning O-line kids, playmaking receivers and an entire back eight returning on defense. There is so much talent here, it would be hard to name them all, but I am very excited to be working with them and watching them succeed.”

Waianae has preseason/non-league games scheduled against Kapolei and Waipahu before the regular season opener on the first weekend of September. An early draft of the OIA schedule has Pearl City slated to be the Seariders first opponent in league play.