Hawaii softball: Bob Coolen still enjoying a grand old time

Former UH assistant coach John Nakamura, left, associate coach Dee Wisneski and assistant coach Kaulana Gould posed with Bob Coolen after Saturday's celebration. / Photo by Jason Kaneshiro

Coach Bob Coolen says he doesn’t want Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium named after him.

“Just put a seat up there for me,” Coolen said with a laugh on Tuesday, talking to reporters before his University of Hawaii team took off for a three-game road set at Cal State Fullerton starting Friday.

Coolen is focused on what is ahead, but still happy to talk about his 1,000th victory as the Hawaii coach on Saturday.

The Wahine are riding high with a six-game winning streak that has them atop the Big West standings at 8-1 (27-10 overall). The Titans are a game back at 7-2 (27-15).

UH wants to keep one streak going and end another: It hasn’t beat Fullerton since 2015, a slide of nine straight losses.

In Saturday’s doubleheader sweep of UC Santa Barbara, Nicole Lopez, Brittnee Rossi and Alyssa Sojka all homered in 3-1 and 5-2 victories — the latter making Coolen’s record at UH 1,000-608-1 in 28 seasons at Manoa. Coolen joined retirees Les Murakami (baseball), Jim Schwitters (tennis), and Dave Shoji (volleyball) as Hawaii coaches with at least 1,000 wins at UH.

Coaching softball in Hawaii was never part of Coolen’s plan growing up in Boston, or even after turning down an appointment to the United States Naval Academy to be a baseball pitcher at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where he was also a swimmer and a football receiver.

Back then his closest association to Hawaii was when he got a win over Yale, against future all-star Ron Darling. Darling happens to be of Hawaiian heritage and was born in Honolulu.

Coolen said he had thoughts of law school, but a not very good score on the LSAT nixed that. Then he flirted with trying to become an FBI or CIA agent before settling on teaching and coaching.

“I actually started out as a football coach,” Coolen said.

He was also a lifeguard in the summers on Cape Cod, and turned down a lifeguard job at the Hale Koa Hotel when he moved here in 1990 to be Rayla Allison‘s assistant.

“The shift would have ended at 5:30,” said Coolen. “Too late to get to softball practice.”


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