Miyataki Stays On to Lead UHH Baseball Program
There were no guarantees that Kallen Miyataki’s dream of running a collegiate baseball program would extend past the 2014 baseball season.
After coaching last season on an interim basis, the University of Hawai`i at Hilo announced Wednesday that Miyataki would remain at the helm of the program on a permanent basis.
“Kallen’s experience in the Hilo community will prove valuable in the long-run in developing our baseball program,” said UH-Hilo Interim Athletic Director Tim Moore in a statement. “Coach Miyataki maintains impressive recruiting ties in Hawai`i, West Coast, and Alaska and is well respected in the collegiate baseball community”.
“It was always a dream to do something like this,” said Miyataki in a radio interview. His official hiring came over four months after UH-Hilo completed its previous season. The Vulcans were 14-33 last season under Miyataki.
While awaiting word on who would take the job on a permanent basis, Miyataki had continued to recruit players for the program. His interim status at the time made recruiting difficult.
“The biggest thing was the recruiting phase when, the bottom line is, that when they ask you the question, that interim status is standing right in front of your name,” Miyataki explained. “It’s tough to recruit, because they’re not going to come and invest their time and effort to come to a program that is not sure if they are going to have that coach or not.”
Miyataki, a former player and assistant under previous coach Joey Estrella, was named the interim coach last year following Estrella’s retirement. The interim designation was to last a season before the school officially launched a search for a permanent coach.
Miyataki knows that he faces an uphill battle in recruiting, especially in a program that is not “fully funded.” His prior role at UH-Hilo as an Associate Athletic Director may be important in turning the tables.
“We’re not fully funded, so we know that we’re not gonna get that top recruit that we dreamed of,” Miyataki said. “We’re trying to create that business plan so that we can go and recruit these big time guys and, hopefully, be productive along the way.”
There won’t be many changes to Miyataki’s coaching staff. Student Assistant Coach TJ Yasuhara left the program to coach at Kea`au High School. A former coach at Hilo High School will be joining Miyataki this season.
“We’re fortunate that we picked up Warren Arakaki,” Miyataki announced today. “Warren is a household name in Hilo and he’s coming on as a volunteer coach to take over the infield.”
Arakaki’s son, Anson, was an infielder at Pacific University in Oregon.
Another volunteer coach may be officially announced in the coming months. Coaches returning include Kevin Yee, Shaye Miura, and Rob Kelso.
UH-Hilo opens its season on Feb. 12 with a home game against Menlo College at Wong Stadium.