At 39, Mike Taylor has lived a lifetime in the coaching ranks.
But after eight Interscholastic League of Honolulu titles and four state championships, the basketball lifer is stepping away. Taylor, who completed his 10th year at the helm of Punahou’s girls program this winter, resigned yesterday.
His wife, Noelle, and twins, Logan and Lexie, will get his full attention from this point on.
"I’ve always been committed 100 percent to basketball, but every year we evaluate the situation and how things went," he said last night. "A lot of it does go back to my family and the amount of time I spend with them."
Taylor, who graduated from Punahou in 1990 and promptly began coaching that year, is looking forward to cheering for his children, who are 12.
"The amount of mental energy, physical energy is low when I’m with them because of what it takes to run a program like ours, 365 days a year," he said. "There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my players and the program and what we can be doing."
This season, Taylor and his staff extracted every ounce of potential out of their team, guiding Punahou to a second-place finish in the state tourney. With four state titles in the past decade, only Konawaena equaled that total.
"I am surprised. I’m in shock," Konawaena coach Bobbie Awa said. "I know his kids are in middle school. I can see that he’d want to spend more time with them. I have the utmost respect for Coach Taylor. No matter what talent they’ve got, he got them to buy in and they have fun. He’s going to be truly missed."
During the season, Taylor missed an ILH regular-season game for the first time so he could attend son Logan’s basketball tournament in Hilo.
"It was great being a fan, just being in the stands and cheering. It was cool," he said. "I just remember him thanking me, ‘Thanks Dad for coming.’ "
Taylor coached in the Punahou intermediate program under Dave Eldredge, then Shelly Fey. It was boys basketball in the winter and girls hoops in the spring, followed by girls and boys in the summer. He finally stopped coaching boys in the late 1990s after Noelle gave birth to the twins.
Speculation, of course, never strays far from an elite coach. An online comment about the girls basketball vacancy at Kamehameha was completely foreign to Taylor until a reporter mentioned it. Taylor is a good friend of Kamehameha athletic director Blane Gaison.
"I respect Blane a lot, but the reason I stepped down from the great job I have is to spend more time with my family," Taylor said.
He was also a finalist for the boys varsity coaching position last year before Darren Matsuda was hired.
"I knew that whole thing with the boys would come up. There’s never been any animosity," said Taylor, who is an elementary school teacher at Punahou. "Darren’s a good guy. He works hard and we get along fine. What I took from that is knowing that I had a great job being varsity girls coach and looking forward to another great year."