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by John Barry, Athletics

With only a few games remaining in the season, the HPU softball team has established itself as a force in the Western Region. The 2007 Lady Sea Warriors are vying for a conference championship and a postseason selection, and the man behind it all is Co-Head Coach Howard Okita.

“ Coach O” is currently in the midst of his 19th season of college coaching, and entered the 2007 season with a phenomenal 532-237-2 NCAA coaching record. Okita’s coaching impact on the game spans four decades, from his early success at Kailua High School to his collegiate career at Hawai‘i Loa College, and now HPU. A season ago, Okita earned his 500th collegiate victory, making him the winningest active coach in NCAA Division II.

Softball was not always a focal point of Okita’s life. As a graduate of ‘Iolani School, he competed on the varsity golf team before furthering his education at the University of Hawai‘i. Okita then turned his sights to the armed forces, and enlisted in the Hawai‘i Air National Guard, where he was active until he retired in 1987.

During his later years in the National Guard, Okita assumed head coaching duties of the Kailua High School softball team. He built a program that became dominant in Hawai‘i in the 1980s. His Surfrider teams won six state titles (1981-83, 1986, 1988-89), eight OIA championships, and every OIA East division crown from 1981 through the 1989 season. Okita posted a phenomenal overall record of 181-24.

Making the jump to the collegiate level, Okita took over the newly created Hawai‘i Loa College program, as the campus was known prior to its merger with HPU. Building the program from the ground up, Okita received his crowning achievement when the HLC Mongoose won the 1991 NAIA National Championship. Following the merger, Okita joined HPU as an assistant in 1993, and became the head coach shortly thereafter.

The 2007 Lady Sea Warriors hold a 30-10 record, and Okita is very pleased with the results this season. “We have a very talented team this year with a lot of depth, more than we’ve had in the past,” said Okita. “We played very well in the Cal State-Stanislaus tournament this time. Our only losses were in extra innings with the international rule in effect. I don’t really count those as losses.”



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