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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Goo's hoops assistants won't return

By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer

Two former Rainbow Wahine basketball assistants who have chalked up more than 200 wins alongside recently retired head coach Vince Goo will not be on the coaching staff assembled by new head coach Jim Bolla.

Former associate head coaches Da Houl and Serenda Valdez both applied for full-time positions with Bolla after their contracts expired at the end of last season.

But Houl said she wasn't offered a job, and Valdez said she turned down Bolla's job offer earlier this month in favor of a career change.

Since taking over the program from Goo on July 16, Bolla has encountered several hurdles, including a preseason tournament that was forced to move to a later date because of a lack of committed teams.

Now, he's two assistants short with the season less than two months away. Bolla, however, does have one of his three assistants hired in former Division I head coach Pat Charity.

Houl said she applied for the associate position. Valdez said she applied for the associate and assistant positions.

"I said this at the beginning, the positions are open, you have to apply for them," Bolla said. "Rather than just keep somebody on, I want to see if they have an interest in it. It's easy to say, 'we'll just keep everybody (from the former staff).' I felt it was best to start over, and open it up and have people apply for them."

Houl said she accepted a high school coaching position at Mid-Pacific under girls varsity head coach Byron Cheng. Houl, a former Rainbow Wahine player (1983 to 87), would have been eligible for retirement benefits and job security had she reached 10 years of service in the UH system on Nov. 1, 2005.

"Hopefully something will come up," said Houl, who is still paying off loans she took out when she worked as a $5,000-a-year part-time UH assistant for the first three years.

Valdez said she turned down the UH assistant coaching position that was offered by Bolla on Aug. 19, which was four days before school started. Valdez said she is pursing other job opportunities in academics, counseling and guidance.

Valdez had been the backbone of a Rainbow Wahine academic program that boasted a 100 percent graduation rate.

"It was a hard decision, basically my whole professional career has been coaching at UH for the last 12 years," said Valdez, who joined the program with Houl in 1992, and has helped guide the program to a 237-116 record during that span. "I really had to venture out and start looking at other opportunities. To me, this felt like good timing to transition out of the program."

Charity was hired Aug. 19 for the Rainbow Wahine associate coaching position, which is considered the program's top assistant.

Charity worked as an assistant at Long Beach State, UNLV, Arizona, Western Michigan and Alabama. From 1990 to 1997, she was the head coach at Division I Western Michigan.

"She was head and shoulders above anybody who applied for the job in qualifications," said Bolla, who has known Charity for more than 10 years. "Her qualifications can't be questioned. She's been a head coach at Division I. She's head coaching material."

Bolla said yesterday he plans to have two entry-level, part-time assistants rather than one full-time "assistant coach." He said the Rainbow Wahine program is allowed three assistant coaches, and he's already had a "couple of offers out," but the candidates have not accepted the offers.

Bolla said he's hoping the university posts the jobs this week. The jobs must be posted for more than a week before a candidate can be hired, he said.

If there's no qualified candidates, Bolla said he's willing to leave at least one of the positions vacant for the season.

"If I can't get somebody that I feel is quality for our position, I'd rather leave it empty, rather than hire somebody just to fill the position," Bolla said.

A former UNLV coach, Bolla became the sixth Rainbow Wahine head coach in July, succeeding Goo, the state's winningest basketball coach who retired after 17 seasons.

Bolla posted a 300-120 mark from 1982 to 1996 at UNLV. He led the Lady Rebels to nine postseason appearances, including seven NCAA Tournament bids, and 11 seasons of 20 or more wins. He retired after the 1996 season, but wanted to get back into coaching and joined the Rainbow Wahine.

Reach Brandon Masuoka at 535-2458 or bmasuoka@honoluluadvertiser.com.