The last time I saw Skip Akina, who died today, was several years ago as we bumped into each other at a supermarket. The conversation eventually got around to his brother, Duane, who was then the defensive backs coach at Texas. Skip related how proud he was of his brother, telling a story about how one of the players he coached had a copy of the trophy for the Jim Thorpe Award (for the country’s best defensive back) made for him because of how much he’d done to help him win the award.
His pride and love for his family also shone through via the Shawn Akina Classic, a benefit football series of games that matched some of the best high school teams in Hawaii with powerhouses from the mainland. It was named in honor of his brother, Shawn, who died while a quarterback at Utah.
Skip was a very positive person, a creative guy with a lot of energy and aloha in his heart. I always felt energized when around him; although we’d lost touch, I still considered him a friend. I’m very saddened by his death.