KHS’ Yoshida More Than Just A Coach

Coach Reiko Yoshida. Coco ZIckos photo

Reiko Yoshida knew she wanted to give back to the community by mentoring keiki, but in no way did she anticipate becoming head coach of the Kaua’i High School girls varsity soccer team.

What started out as a voluntary part-time assistant coaching position two years ago became a full-time responsibility when she was promoted to head coach during the 2010/2011 season.

“It was a challenge. It was definitely a different role for me,” says Yoshida, accounting manager and corporate treasurer at Grove Farm. “I had already bonded with the kids on a friend level, so it was kind of difficult for me to step into this authoritative role for them.”

But the step-up was worth it. Not only has Yoshida been able to influence the team of 20 both on and off the field, she has learned just as much from them.

“The funny thing is that, when I started this, I wanted to give to them and help them,” she says. “But it’s amazing how much it works the other way around as well.”

Yoshida, a Kaua’i native who graduated from Kaua’i High, has developed strong relationships with the girls since she began in the 2009/2010 season.

“I’m not just coach, I’m more than that to them,” she says.

Watching the girls form friendships not only with her but with other team members also has been a treat for Yoshida.

The 2010 KIF champs, with Coach Yoshida in front. Photo courtesy Reiko Yoshida

“The team is really your soccer sisters. They really come together on the field, of course, but off the field as well,” she says. “I know, for some of them at least, to have that kind of sisterhood is something they’ve never grown up with or had in their household, so that’s something that’s really important.”

Yoshida is proud to serve as the foundation for these bonds, even though it takes a lot of hard work and time management during the season.

“Basically you’re in a position where everybody’s relying on you not just the kids, but their parents, their teachers and the community that supports Kaua’i High School athletics,” says Yoshida, who has a master’s in accounting from the University of Oregon.

Paperwork, planning out practices and advising students are just a few of the many activities the head coach position demands.

And the team’s schedule is always packed. Yoshida starts conditioning the girls in October with practices from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The preseason kicks off in November and the first game this year is slated for Dec. 3. The state tournament occurs during the first or second week of February, and last year Yoshida was proud to lead the girls to the state championships. But although the team gave its best effort, it lost in double overtime.

“It was a heartbreaking loss,” she says.

This year, she plans to give it her all again. And when Yoshida isn’t giving it her all on the soccer field, she is finding other ways to contribute to the community.

This upcoming school year, Yoshida will serve as president of the Kiwanis Club of Kaua’i, an organization that works with Key Clubs to help with community projects and fundraisers that support keiki at an academic level. Using yet another avenue for mentoring youth, Yoshida also serves on the advisory board for Big Brothers, Big Sisters.

“I couldn’t do it without the support of upper management at Grove Farm,” she says.

She also gives credit to Arlene Devitt, who helps her coach the Kaua’i High School girls.

“I’ve got to give credit where credit is due,” says the humble Yoshida.

Even though Devitt is a Kapa’a High School graduate, Yoshida, who used to play opposite Devitt in high school, confesses she now “looks good in red.”

Yoshida still likes to kick a ball around every now and again with co-ed teams on island. For the most part, however, she is committed to teaching others how to play not only on the field, but in all aspects of life.