It was 1992, and the Warriors had one last football scholarship to offer. Head coach Bob Wagner and recruiting coordinator Kanani Souza wanted to award the scholarship to someone who would “pay it forward” following his UH career.
Wagner and Souza consulted with several high school coaches. Skippa Diaz, the legendary Farrington High coach, made a compelling case for an undersized running back whose family was living in public housing at the time.
“Skippa saw a lot of kids come and go,” Wagner said in a telephone interview this morning. “When somebody like him says, ‘this kid is an absolutely great young person … ‘ Character matters. Skippa was a good part of it. He thought so highly of Randall, it was, ‘Hey, let’s give this kid a shot.'”
Randall Okimoto was a member of the Warriors for five seasons. He earned his degree, then returned to his alma mater as teacher and coach. On Wednesday, Okimoto announced he was stepping down as the Governors’ head coach after 16 seasons.
“One of the things we tried to do the last three or four years I was coach … we tried to get UH players out (into the community) as head coaches,” Wagner said. “Certainly you want to win games. But you want to develop people.”
Wagner said Okimoto was deserving of that final scholarship.
Wagner recalled thinking: “He’s such a good kid, even if he doesn’t play a lot, he may be a real asset to the community by being a part of the program.”
Wagner added: “Sure enough, it worked out that way.”