Photo: Kale Ane asked his father Charles to join him on the Punahou staff
Charles Teetai Ane Jr.’s recent enshrinement with the Polynesian Hall of Fame Class of 2016 was an opportunity to celebrate Hawaii’s first NFL Pro Bowl player as well as a father-son football bond long famed on the islands.
Ane Jr. was inducted posthumously in a ceremony at the Polynesian Cultural Center Jan. 30 on Oahu’s North Shore. His was presented by Charles Teetai Ane III, his son that goes by the nickname Kale (pronounced Kawl-ee).
Both played seven NFL seasons as an offensive lineman. Both are graduates of Honolulu’s famed Punahou School, whose alumni include a former basketball player now known as President Barack Obama. Both returned to paradise from NFL careers to enjoy post-playing days success as a high school football coach, including at Punahou.
But Kale, 63, says his father, who passed away in 2007 at age 76, was the one known throughout the islands simply as “Coach.”
“Hawaii is a small place,” Kale explained. “It didn’t matter if you were from another school, he was willing to help you get into a college, a job or whatever. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people tell me, ‘Your Dad was my coach and meant the world to me. He changed my life.’ ”
But Charles Jr.’s first statewide identity was as Hawaii’s football ambassador during his seven years playing for the Detroit Lions from 1953 to 1959.
The 1950s were Detroit glory years that included two world titles in 1953 and 1957 in the pre-Super Bowl era. He was a two-time Pro Bowler back when the selection meant something – long before the NFL resorted to bribing players to participate in the all-star game with an all-expenses paid vacation, including family members, to paradies in Ane’s home state.
Following his Charles Jr.’s playing days he returned home and began coaching as an assistant at Punahou. Next he was a head coach at three Honolulu high schools, Damian, Radford and Kaimuki.
He also was recruited to take over as coach at St. Anthony on the neighboring island of Maui. St. Anthony had failed to score a point for three seasons when he took over. Three years later he guided St. Anthony to the Maui championship.
Charles Jr. returned to Punahou as an assistant when Kale began playing for the school. Kale’s mother Marilyn, the daughter of Honolulu mayor Neal Blaisdale (1955-69), taught at Punahou for 28 years.
“My father loved to coach,” Kale said. “He loved the challenge and he loved working with kids. The game brought him so much, it was his way to give back.”
Once Kale finished his NFL career – six with the Kansas City Chiefs and one with the Green Bay Packers from 1975 to 1981 – he returned to Hawaii and eventually took up coaching.
When he was named Punahou’s head coach in 1998, he wanted his father to join him. Charles Jr. resisted at first but Kale enlisted his mother to persuade him. They worked together through the 2003 season. Kale has won four state titles in 18 seasons at Punahou, where he has added the athletic director role.
“Coaching is the same thing for me as my father,” Kale said. “I love the excitement of coaching. I love helping kids. Kids have dreams to go on and do something and it is fun to be a part of it. It’s the same when I was young.”
One of Kale’s many stars over the years to earn college scholarships was Manti Teo, Notre Dame’s 2012 Heisman Trophy runner-up linebacker now with the San Diego Chargers.
The father-son football bond now extends another generation to Charles Teetai Ane IV. Kale’s son, who goes by the middle name of Teetai, serves as the offensive coordinator under his father at Punahou.
“I’ve enjoyed having him, except he’s always throwing the ball deep,” Kale said. “Everyone in our family was an offensive lineman, but he was a tight end and likes to throw the ball. Sometimes I have to tell him we need to run the ball a little.”
Teetai’s playing career was ended by a back injury at Golden West College, a community college in Huntington Beach, Calif., before he followed the family tradition of returning to the islands and taking up coaching.
“I hope he’s enjoys the experience as much as I did with my Dad,” Kale said.
Charles Jr. navigated a route from the islands to the NFL by leaving home to play at Compton College near Los Angeles. The University of Hawaii has played football since 1909, but the Rainbow Warriors weren’t an NCAA program until 1974.
USC recruited Charles Jr. and he earned All-Pacific Coast Conference honorable mention as a senior in 1952. He was inducted into the USC Hall of Fame in 2007.
Despite Kale’s Hawaiian and Samoan roots, he was a mainlander before he was an islander. He was born in Los Angeles his father’s senior year at USC. He spent his first seven years living in Detroit.
“I had only been back to Hawaii for family vacations and the holidays,” Kale said. “When we moved to Hawaii, kids thought I spoke funny.”
Kale’s college career on the mainland was formed when he watched Notre Dame and Michigan State played their epic 10-10 tie in the 1966 Game of the Century. Michigan State’s roster featured three Hawaiians – Bob Apisa, the first Samoan All-American player, kicker Dick Kenney and backup quarterback Charley Wedemeyer. It was the first football game televised live in Hawaii using new satellite technology.
“I decided then I wanted to play for one of those two schools,” Kale said.
Michigan State Coach Duffy Daugherty, a College Football Hall of Famer, recruited Ane. Daugherty was known for his Hawaiian Pipeline from 1955 through his final recruiting class in 1972 that included Ane. Kale was a starting center on the 1974 team that upset No. 1-ranked Ohio State at Spartan Stadium, 16-13.
“I enjoyed my experiences at Michigan State, Kansas City and Green Bay, but I always knew I wanted to come home,” Kale said. “My father was proud to represent his family and the state of Hawaii. My Dad always talked about representing our last name, our culture and our ethnicity. Those are strong ties.”