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New Kaiser High Basketball Coaches Look to Re-Energize Program, Teach Life Skills to Players
Branden Kawazoe Takes Over as Head Coach Supported by Three New Assistants
HAWAI‘I KAI – A new coaching staff with a fresh perspective on re-energizing the Kaiser High School basketball program for the student body and Hawai‘i Kai community is taking shape this fall.
Head Coach Branden Kawazoe is beginning his first year leading the Cougars basketball program, supported by three first-year assistant coaches, Kainoa Scheer, Jamie Weaver, and Drew Gregerson (see bios below). All four have accrued coaching or playing experience in college or high school at accomplished programs.
“This is a very exciting time for our coaching staff and Kaiser basketball. We have some big, physical young men that are already working hard, improving their fundamentals, and are eager to learn from our teachings to compete on the court, while having fun,” said Kawazoe.
“We want to generate a buzz among students on campus that extends into the community about Kaiser basketball, as we work at building a strong program that reaches the post-season year after year.”
Kawazoe spent the past four years serving as assistant varsity coach at ‘Iolani School, one of Hawai‘i’s top high school basketball programs the past two decades. He credits current ‘Iolani Head Coach Dean Shimamoto for helping to mold his coaching leadership skills, and is grateful for his family’s support as he takes on the responsibility of directing the Kaiser program. This school year has been made even more memorable for Kawazoe and wife Alison, as they welcomed their first child, daughter Addison, in September.
A freshman year counselor at Kaiser, Kawazoe relishes the opportunity to help the Cougars student-athletes succeed athletically as well as academically. “One of our staff’s goals is to teach these kids life lessons through basketball, teaching them character traits that will carry them through college and into adulthood, like coping with adversity and showing respect to others. We want to use basketball to make them into better people.”
Kaiser Athletic Director Rodney Iwasaki noted Kawazoe’s strong basketball background, work ethic, and commitment to academics, makes him an excellent role model for Kaiser’s student-athletes. “Branden is a leader our student-athletes can emulate and follow on the path to success,” said Iwasaki. “As a student-athlete himself, he worked hard on the basketball court and had great success, but he also made the most of his academic opportunities and now has a career doing what he enjoys most, working in education to help guide young people in fulfilling their dreams.”
Kaiser basketball tryouts begin November 18, with the first pre-season game on December 4 in Hilo as part of a 16-team tournament hosted at Waiakea High School. For the first time Kaiser is playing in the prestigious ‘Iolani Classic basketball tournament, which historically includes top mainland high school teams. The high level of competition, noted Kawazoe, will help the Cougars improve as they prepare for the regular season.
For home games, the Cougars will play on a gymnasium floor recently refinished with funds provided by the Kaiser High School Athletic Foundation. Players are also improving their strength and fitness in Kaiser’s weightlifting facility, which was also recently enhanced with funds donated by the Foundation.
The Kaiser High School Athletic Foundation is a nonprofit 501c3 organization dedicated to raising funds for Kaiser’s athletic program facilities and equipment, and scholarships for its student-athletes.
Branden Kawazoe – Varsity Head Coach
Branden Kawazoe enters his first year as head basketball coach at Kaiser High School, where he also works as a counselor for freshman year students. He served as an assistant coach at ‘Iolani School the past four years, 2009-2013, helping to lead the team to a Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association state championship and two Interscholastic League of Honolulu championships. Before that Kawazoe was an assistant coach at his college alma mater, Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, from 2007-2009. He played at Pacific from 2002-2006, where he was a three-year starter and two-time all conference team selection. A graduate of Waiakea High School in Hilo, he was the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Player of the Year and a Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association all-state selection in 2002. He holds a Masters degree in counseling psychology with an emphasis in school counseling.
Kainoa Scheer – Varsity Assistant Coach
Kainoa Scheer begins his first year as assistant varsity basketball coach at Kaiser. Last year, he served as an assistant varsity basketball coach at Kailua High School, helping to lead the team to a division championship in the O‘ahu Interscholastic Association and runner-up finish in the Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association Division II state championship. Before that, Scheer served as an assistant junior varsity coach at ‘Iolani School, and he has also coached at the high school AAU level and at the Elite Basketball Camp. A 2011 graduate of ‘Iolani School, Scheer was a four-year varsity basketball letterman on a team that won a Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association state championship and three Interscholastic League of Honolulu championships.
Jamie Weaver – Varsity Assistant Coach
Jamie Weaver begins his first year as assistant varsity basketball coach at Kaiser. A native of Maryland, he has 18 years of coaching experience, mostly on the East Coast. For the past eight years, Weaver has coached AAU teams in Virginia and Hawai‘i for boys and girls in grades 5-12. His strongest coaching influence has been working with Hall of Fame Coach Morgan Wootten of DeMatha High School at his summer basketball camp, an experience that began while Weaver was in high school and continues today when his schedule permits. He holds a Master of Education degree from the University of West Florida.
Drew Gregerson – Varsity Assistant Coach
Drew Gregerson begins his first year as assistant varsity basketball coach at Kaiser. A 2002 graduate of Kaiser High School, he was an O‘ahu Interscholastic Association first-team selection. Gregerson played at Western State College from 2003-2004, and at Pacific University from 2005-2007. He most recently served as an assistant basketball coach at Neil Armstrong School in Portland, Oregon. Gregerson earned his Master of Business Administration degree from Chaminade University.