Omura enjoying stint as UH volunteer coach
BY Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
After five seasons of professional baseball, former Hawai'i second baseman Isaac Omura figured it was time to take care of unfinished business.
Omura, who signed with the Oakland Athletics after his junior season in 2005, is back at UH to complete his degree in psychology. But he also is back in the game as a volunteer coach for the Rainbows. He will be the first base coach and is responsible for the outfielders.
"It's been fun," Omura said. "I kind of worried about the age difference, that they wouldn't take me too serious. It's been good. I've formed a lot of good coach-player relationships."
Hawai'i coach Mike Trapasso said Omura's character has helped in the transition.
"He goes about his business the right way," Trapasso said. "That's what you look for first. The years he spent in professional baseball and the career he had for us immediately lends itself to our players taking notice and having respect for him. He's earned the respect from our guys because of the type of person he is."
Trapasso said the student coach and volunteer coach positions are a way for former players to see if coaching is in their future.
"I came into this to test the waters, to see if it's for me," Omura said. "I'll use this season as a gauge. It certainly is different being on the other side."
The route Omura is taking might be the only way for former players to keep the college coaching profession pipeline open.
"When (the NCAA) eliminated the graduate assistant (position), it crippled the future corps of young coaches," Trapasso said.
Omura, 26, was drafted in the 17th round by the Athletics after enjoying his best year at the plate for UH, batting .369 with 19 doubles, six home runs and 47 RBIs. He spent three seasons in the Athletics' organization, making it to High-A Stockton of the California League. He spent the past two seasons in the independent Frontier and Northern Leagues.
Omura said he has closed the playing chapter of his life. He said he declined an offer to play with the new Na Ikaika Koa Maui team of the independent Golden Baseball League.
"I haven't done much to stay in (baseball-playing) shape," Omura said. "The mentality (for me) is it's time to move on."
Other former 'Bows who had similar positions at UH as Omura were Greg Kish (2006), who works in the front office for the Dallas Cowboys, Adam Roberts (2007), who was an assistant at Skagit Valley JC (Wash.) last season, and Julian Russell (2008 and 2009), who is an assistant at Ohlone JC (Calif.), where he also teaches.