HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Among ILH football schools, no one personifies the "underdog" label quite like Damien.
For instance, all you have to do is take a look at their practice field. It's 80 yards long...20 yards short of a regulation field. Eddie Klaneski, the new varsity head football coach, say's it won't be that way for long.
"We're hoping to, in the next few years, one of our big plans is to have a football field...and it will be astroturf. It will have a track, but for now, we're going to use what we have and do our best."
Klaneski's goals are to change more than just the playing surface for the Monarchs. As an undersized safety on the UH football team from 1996-1997, Klaneski is used to making the most of his opportunity's. Standing no taller than 5-9 and never weighing anywhere near 200 pounds as a player, Klaneski led the Rainbow's in tackles his junior and senior year on his way to earning all-WAC honors.
He hopes his fighting spirit will rub off on his future players.
"For me to be able to relate to this kids. Like you said it's a small school, small environment, not the biggest athletes but for me, my whole thing is to change their mentality and change their belief in what they can actually accomplish.
Damien's Athletic Director, Wally Aina Jr., says his Klaneski's drive to succeed made him the perfect hire.
"I tell you what, from our faculty to our alumni, to our kids here, everybody was just over joyed with Eddie being named. And he has a tough mindset, Eddie doesn't have quit in his vocabulary, he's a leader."
Seven years ago Klaneski joined Damien's teaching staff. He taught history. His next lesson plan may be his toughest as he try's to make the Monarch's forget their past. Damien's varsity football team has won just one game over the last two seasons, the former defensive back says the building block to turning things around will begin with what he knows best.
"I've been coaching the defense in the past too and that's where we'll be focusing a little bit. We're definitely going to be an attacking, disciplined, smart defense and we're gonna try and use the same philosophy on the offensive side of the ball."
Because of Klaneski's late hire, Damien has been allowed to hold their spring practice next week, one week later than the rest of the ILH.