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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, December 1, 2001

Even in defeat, Cal Lee goes out a winner

 •  Cal Lee's record
 •  Kahuku beats St. Louis for second state football title

After his final game as St. Louis football coach, Cal Lee assembled his players and instructed them to "act with class ... that's how people will remember us."

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

They came to offer praise, thanks and, yes, to say goodbye.

Former players, former students, family and friends gathered for Cal Lee's announced final game as the head football coach at St. Louis School.

But as time expired, as the St. Louis players stared across the field at a red sea of Kahuku players and fans, it was Lee who offered instructions on how to walk away.

"Remember this game ...," Lee said in the mosh pit of players and coaches. "And ... remember to act with class. ... That's how people will remember us."

The Crusader players formed a line and, one by one, they embraced the Red Raiders.

"He's one of the great ones," said umpire Hardy Spoehr, who hugged Lee before the game. "He really brought a lot to the game."

Cal Lee, right, and Kahuku Siuaki Livai hugged after the game.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

Pac-Five coach Don Botelho, who has competed against Lee for two decades, hailed an opponent who had long ago become a friend.

"I wish he would reconsider," Botelho said. "He's good for the sport."

Former Crusader quarterback Darnell Arceneaux recalled how he was treated like a son. "Who knows where I would be without him?" said Arceneaux, who went to play football at the University of Utah. "He's a father figure to me. He's helped a lot of players who came from single-parent families. I'll always be grateful for what he's done for me."

University of Hawai'i slotback Craig Stutzmann said Lee helped him land a football scholarship. "Without his help, I would probably have to work to pay my way through school," Stutzmann said.

UH assistant coach Rich Miano, who played under Lee at Kaiser High, credited Lee with providing needed encouragement.

"I only played one year in high school," said Miano, who attended UH and then played 12 years in the National Football League. "I couldn't have done any of that without Coach Lee."

Surrounded by reporters last night, Lee said he looked forward to a "good night's sleep."

"I've coached for 30 years ...," said Lee, whose appearance has changed in recent years. Instead of wrap-around sunglasses, he uses reading glasses to scan his notes. He has outgrown his trademark tan pants and now wears beige slacks.

He said, for sure, he has no plans to coach at the high school level. "I might change my mind, but until I decide that I'm going to stay retired," Lee said.

Still, he said he has not ruled out coaching in a college program. He is rumored to be in line for a position at UH.

"I think what I said was I'm going to stop coaching high school," Lee said.

Then he mused, "Michael Jordan can unretire in a couple of years. Retiring means I'm going to stop, but not totally, I guess."

In previous years, Lee would watch videotapes of the final game. He would join his brother, UH assistant coach Ron Lee, diagramming plays over meals, using salt shakers as players.

For now, Lee said, he would like to concentrate on his other team — his wife, Val.

"Everybody that I read says (he wants) to spend more time with the family," Lee said. "That's not a bad line. That sounds pretty good."