He’s a Damien lifer, but Eddie Klaneski made no assumptions when he applied for the vacant football coaching position at his alma mater.
Damien announced Thursday that Klaneski, 35, is the new head coach, succeeding Punahou Aina.
Aina left the position for personal reasons, according to his father, Damien athletic director Wally Aina.
Klaneski, a 1993 graduate, played football at the University of Hawaii. He’s a physical education teacher on campus and has been an assistant coach at Damien for seven years, and has also been the head track coach for that duration. He was on Maui last night with his track squad.
“It was a lot of sleepless nights, just kind of pondering if I’d be able to handle doing the job and do it properly. When it opened up, as soon as I found out about it, of course, I wanted to apply for the job,” he said.
Klaneski has plenty of energy and is still in shape, aspects that will come in handy with a team that will be extremely young this fall. He intends to make an impact from day one.
“It’s just being able to not have the losing mentality. A lot of them, that’s ingrained in their mind. We’re here to compete and win. They have to believe in themselves and believe they can win. They’ve never felt confident enough in themselves, and that’s the main thing is to change their minds and change them physically. But that comes with changing their mindset,” he said.
Klaneski noted a strong freshman class, including a quarterback with good potential. But another key priority will be hiring his coaching staff.
“I’m looking up all my boys and asking who can come,” he said. “I’ve got my summer program intact. Just a matter of implementing that. I want to get my philosophy instilled into them as soon as possible. We have a short time and a lot to do.”
At UH, he played slotback for two seasons before switching to cornerback and safety. He’ll continue to run Damien’s defense, but is open to new ideas from the next offensive coordinator.