Tihada a great mentor to Luna football players
The Lahainaluna High School football program has experienced unmitigated success over the last decade, including ten consecutive Maui Interscholastic League Division II titles and three straight Hawaii High School Athletic Association state championships.
For that entire climb to the top, Bobby Watson and Garret Tihada have been at the helm of this golden journey. They have shared the leadership role as co-head coaches for what has become one of the dominant programs in the state. But after months of speculation, Coach Garret will step away from Luna football due to personal reasons.
In his capacity as co-head coach, Tihada also was the offensive coordinator for the team. He will be replaced by offensive line coach Dean Rickard, another son of the West Side and a veteran mentor at Lahainaluna. Coach Garret will remain connected to the team as an advisor and assistant coach.
During the 31 years he has roamed the sidelines for the team, Tihada has been instrumental in developing the innovative offense that, alongside Coach Watson’s stellar defense, has propelled the Lunas to these golden years. But it is the team ethics and character instilled in the Lahainaluna student-athletes that separates them from all others.
In developing a standard of attitude that promoted team interests over any individual desires, Luna football led by Watson and Tihada nurtured the maturity of the young teenagers in their charge. In those crucial human development years from age 14-18, the Lahainaluna coach/mentors guided the student-athletes across that swaying bridge that is adolescence and solidified their strength of character to face adversity with maximum effort and perseverance.
Whether a fourth quarter goal line stand, a length of the field drive to the winning score, a two-hour college entrance exam, a military boot camp or a firefighters’ training regimen, the Lunas are always ready. The inner strength propagated by the coaches prepared them to overcome all challenges of life.
One of the most important standards set by the Luna coaching staff is that of “next man up.” Whatever happens, the replacement is always ready to go. It is a beautiful irony then that Coach Garret – so instrumental in developing this vital characteristic in the players – will now experience it in his own professional and personal life.
He is also a dad and a detective with the Maui County Police Department, and the Lahaina community appreciates and admires the life work he has given to all around him.
We know we will see him up in the booth at Sue D. Cooley Stadium and here and there at practice.
Our sincere mahalo to you for all you have given to all around you. (By Walter Chihara)