Warrior football staff member gains national attention

Greg McMackin
Greg McMackin
Brian Kajiyama
Brian Kajiyama
Jake Ingram
Jake Ingram

By Jason Tang - bio | email 

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The University of Hawaii football program gets some national attention Tuesday.

A Warrior football staff member, confined to a wheel chair, is an inspiration to many.

But an ESPN profile displays some bitterness associated with his new assignment, which he says isn't completely accurate.

His story gained attention in December of last year when Brian Kajiyama made his first road trip with the Warriors to the Sugar Bowl.

Now it's gaining attention for other reasons.

After former head coach June Jones left for Southern Methodist University, newly named head coach Greg McMackin hired Kajiyama as an academic manager, instead of a graduate assistant.

Now instead of helping out on defense, his main responsibility is assisting with academics.

It's a move Kajiyama told ESPN, felt like a demotion.

"He wasn't demoted, he may be disappointed because he wanted to be a coach," said McMackin.

In response to the ESPN story which details Kajiyama's journey from fan to staff member, Kajiyama had this to say in an email to KHNL.

"I appreciate the piece that E:60I appreciate the piece that E:60 produced that shared my life story. However, I was disappointed in any instances which coach Greg McMackin and the University of Hawaii program were negatively portrayed. That was not my intention. I appreciate the opportunity that Coach McMackin has provided me to continue being a part of the Warrior 'Ohana. I will continue to remain loyal to the University of Hawaii and will do my best in my new capacity."

And just as Kajiyama is still thankful for the chance to be a part of the Warrior program, former and current players and coaches express their gratitude that he's a part of them too.

"In the mornings when people come to practice and they don't want to be there, all I gotta say to them is look over there, and look at that guy on the chair that comes every morning, to every practice that doesn't miss anything," said Jake Ingram, Warrior long snapper.

Coach McMackin declined further comment at practice Tuesday.