Skip Akina, RIP

January 21st, 2011
By

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.

8 Responses to “Skip Akina, RIP”

  1. kama krab:

    Mahalo Dave for sharing your thoughts on Coach Skip as we called him. I am one of many who he has touch not only with the his Coaching knowledge but with just his friendship. He is a very great man and will never be forgotten. Once again Dave thank you very sharing this about such a great person. RIP Coach


  2. Dave Reardon:

    The following is an excerpt from a note sent to me by a young man named Ryan Oda, posted here with his permission:

    Mr. Reardon,

    I am emailing you because I just noticed you wrote an article about Coach Skip in your Star Advertiser blog. Like the thousands of people who were touched by Coach Skip, I too am mourning his loss.

    I would like to share a quick story with you on how Coach Skip has positively influenced my life. During my senior year (class of 2006) at Iolani School, I was dismissed from the football team during the pre-season. With a lot self generated hate and anger, I simply hated the game of football; it hurt even more when I could not pursue the same footsteps my father once experience (as a player and coach).

    Two years after my graduation, my father got a call from Coach Elroy (Chong) asking if my father would like to coach for the Damien intermediate football team; Coach Brian Derby was the new head varsity coach and Coach Derby had just appointed Coach Skip as the new intermediate head coach.

    Although my father had been out of coaching since 1987 (when I was born), Coach Skip trusted Coach Elroy’s recommendation on allowing my father to coach along side them. Interesting, for whatever the reason, my father asked Coach Skip if I could be another assistant on the staff. The interesting part was I still had a lot of animosity about my senior year in high school; I had no ambition to coach at all.

    After a great deal of persuasion from my father, I decided to give football another chance. Despite having minimal playing experience and having no coaching experience, Coach Skip treated me has if I was a former blue-chip athlete and a well seasoned coach; he simply had a great personality.

    After the season was over, Coach Skip and Coach Derby resigned. Although I enjoyed our season, I was not expecting to ever coach football again. I was completely content with just being a full time college student continuing my rugby career for the Hawaii Harlequins. After a few months, my father got another phone call; it was Coach Skip. Coach Skip explained that he wanted me to coach along side his brother, Coach Gary at Punahou.

    After two years at Punahou, I just completed a season with Farrington JV. Interestingly, as of recently, I was just personally asked by Coach Ron Lee if I wanted to coach with him at Kalani.

    In summary, Coach Skip, as you explained in your article, was a kind, caring, and gentle man. To some extent, the “genesis” of my coaching career is rooted back to him. However, most importantly, Coach Skip made me interested in a career in coaching and teaching; I am currently earning my Master of Arts in Teaching (online) through the University of Southern California.

    Coach Skip didn’t just give me chance, but he took me under his wing. Under his guidance, he not only eliminated my animosity towards the game of football, but he influenced me to enter a career in teaching/coaching.

    Although Mike Holmgren had Bill Walsh and Bill Cowher had Marty Schottenheimer, I can say I had Skip Akina. Despite only coaching locally in Hawaii, the Skip Akina coaching tree will forever live on.


  3. Anna:

    Dear Ryan,Extremely well written and very thoughtful and insightful.we are proud of you!Keep up your great development and career.love,auntie a and uncle F


  4. Kenneth Kawaiwaiae'a:

    My condolences go out to the Akina family. I was quite saddened to hear of Skip’s passing away. I remember playing some hard fought squash matches against Skip, when I was a member of the Honolulu Club back in the 80′s and early 90′s. He will be remembered.


  5. Milagro Doble:

    You’ve best utilised the power of words. Good article.


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