The Hawaii State Teachers Association is pleased to announce the winner of its 2020 Friend of Youth Award: Scot Yamashita.

Yamashita has been volunteering as an AYSO soccer coach for 14 years. He was nominated by Sharel Kasai, a Webling Elementary School teacher and Central Chapter member. Kasai says Yamashita has guided more than a thousand players over the years, not just as a coach but as a mentor who instills strong values in his athletes.

“I met Coach Scot when my son signed up to play soccer at the end of last school year,” Kasai wrote. “His goal with many of the children, especially with the teens who are facing challenges at home, is to offer a fun and safe outlet to develop self-esteem, trust, and confidence.”

Yamashita coached his daughter, Victoria, in 2017.

Yamashita began coaching in 2006 for his son’s soccer team. “We live in Aiea and I wanted to be more involved with supporting the community. Volunteering to coach soccer gave me that opportunity and allowed me to spend more time with my children,” Yamashita said.

Yamashita says watching his players grow—in athleticism and in character—keeps him returning year after year. “Many strong friendships are established throughout the years of coaching. It’s very rewarding,” he said. “Some of my players go on to play for their high school soccer teams, and when I attend their games, it means a lot to see the passion they have for the game.”

When a group of older players didn’t have a certified coach, Yamashita volunteered to undergo the rigorous training to coach them.

“Coaching U16–19 (age group) requires Advance Coaching Training, which involves three full days of classroom, field training, and passing a certification. During one season, approximately 46 registered to play,” he explained. “Because I didn’t want any of the kids to be turned away from playing due to no coaches available, I committed to complete the training and coach all 46 players, which made up three teams.”

No matter how old his players are, Yamashita stresses the importance of “playing” the game.

“Many times I see children involved in sports and they feel pressure to win all the time. I wanted to provide an atmosphere to teach children that as long as they try their best, respect one another, and work as a team, then they’re winners,” he said. “I’m constantly reminding the team and parents that it’s not about winning, it’s about having fun. Never blame each other.”

The HSTA's Friend of Youth Award recognizes an outstanding individual who works to support Hawaii's youth. Nominees must be involved in a youth-oriented activity outside of their professional duties, dedicate time and service to this cause, and demonstrate a significant impact on youth.

Team photo courtesy Wayde Hayashi.