Cody Nakamura was just 26 years old when he got his first chance as a head football coach in the Maui Interscholastic League.
Nine years later, Nakamura has been named head football coach at Baldwin High School, his alma mater, the school announced Monday.
“It feels great, it’s something that I have been obviously thinking about for a while, wanting to try and get back and coach at my (alma mater),” Nakamura said. “So, it’s very exciting and when the opportunity popped up, I jumped all over it. I’m excited to be a part of this football program.”
Nakamura, who graduated from Baldwin in 2005 and Weber State University in 2010 after a standout career there as a tight end, was head coach at Kamehameha Maui from 2013-15, where he compiled a 6-21 record.
He was also offensive coordinator at Baldwin under Pohai Lee in 2017 — Lee stepped down from the Bears’ helm in January after seven years on the job. The Bears went 1-5 in 2021.
Other than that, Nakamura has not coached since stepping away from the Kamehameha Maui job due to the birth of his second child Harper, now 6. Oldest daughter Evalyn is 9 and son Knox is 2.
“We welcome Coach Cody back to his alma mater as he and his staff will work to teach our student-athletes the sport while emphasizing the importance of being a role model in the classroom and out in the community,” Baldwin athletic director Wade Hondo said in a news release to The Maui News announcing Nakamura’s hiring Monday evening.
Nakamura said he learned a lot about the position as a young coach working with then-KSM athletic director Blaine Gaison, a former NFL player.
“I think that that taught me a lot,” Nakamura said. “A young team, a young roster, and we kind of started from scratch and, you know, introducing some of my training programs and some of the offseason programs definitely helped.
“I think the best part of being at Kam was coach Gaison, the athletic director, was on staff. I could go to him any time I had questions and he would kind of mentor me through a bunch of stuff, which was great to have and I learned a whole lot.”
Nakamura founded and has developed a youth flag football program the last few years for players from the 6-under age group to 15-over. The older players have developed into MIL players and often work as referees for younger games in the program.
“We had close to 50 teams this season, I believe the exact number was 49, but, yeah, you can definitely tell the developmental side with the younger kids learning the game,” Nakamura said. “These kids, by the time they get to high school, are going to have hundreds of games together, which is great. Not tackle, but they will have a lot of familiarity with the game.
“We have a handful of teams now that compete nationally. … It’s definitely making a difference.”
Nakamura must jump on putting together a staff and then get in some spring practices before school gets out on May 26.
“We still hope to have some kind of spring ball, even if it’s a little bit modified,” Nakamura said. “We definitely have to solidify some of the coaching staff. I have talked to a few of them, but we have to go back and make sure we’re good with the coaching staff.
“And then meeting the boys and getting up to campus and doing some signups and getting everyone excited for what’s coming.”
As Baldwin looks forward to its future, the school also gave thanks to those who guided the program in recent years.
“Baldwin High School Athletics would like to again thank Coach Pohai Lee and his staff for all their work and effort with our football program. We wish the very best to Coach Pohai in the future,” Hondo’s news release said. “Thanks and appreciation also go out to JV head coach Rodney Kama and his staff for their many years of help and support with the football program as well as in the community sports programs.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org.