Feature on the Lee Brothers

About his brothers, oldest brother Tommy Lee said:
“We’ve always been close.” (HA)

About his brothers, middle brother Ron Lee said:
“We all loved sports and that gave us a closeness that lasts until this day.” (HA)

About his brothers, youngest brother Cal said:
“Togetherness.” (HA)

HA Note: “At UH home games, Ron and Cal don’t need to scan the stands to know where their parents are. They know that long before the rest of the crowd arrive, their father, Thomas — slowed but not stopped by arthritis — will have already wheeled himself to the south end zone where he and wife Hazel will sit together until the last whistle. They know also that their older brother, two time zones away, is also keeping track of their success.”

About the Lee brothers, their mother Hazel said:
“I always wanted my boys to play sports. I didn’t know that they would all coach, but it’s what they love and they’ve done well for themselves.” (HA)

HA Note: “It was love of sport, Thomas Lee says, from which the loving family grew. Unbeknownst to his mother, who feared the injury the sometimes brutal game might inflict on her son, Thomas was an accomplished fullback by the time he reached his teen years. With nothing but a thick sweatshirt to absorb the contact, Thomas played with a selflessness he learned by his mother — a widow who worked long hours at Waimano Home to pay her son’s $9-a-month tuition at Saint Louis — and an intensity and intelligence he would eventually pass on to his young sons.”

About how he loved football, Thomas Lee said:
“I loved the game, loved the contact. I played until I couldn’t run anymore.” (HA)

HA Note: “Each weekend, Hazel would visit her Hawaiian grandfather at his home on Mokihana Street. It wasn’t long before she noticed the group of young men who congregated down the street, and in particular the athletic and personable one they called Tom.”

About how she got to know Thomas during those Sunday visits to her grandfather, Hazel said:
“That was where our romance blossomed.” (HA)

About his sons, Thomas said:
“My boys played everything — football, baseball, basketball. And my house was just like the park.” (HA)

About how his brothers were his closest friends, Cal said:
“Everything we did was with each other. It wasn’t like one goes here and another goes there. Where you might have friends outside your family, my brothers were my friends.” (HA)

About how he volunteered for night shifts so that he could make sure his sons could make it to practices and games, Thomas said:
“That gave me a lot of time with my boys. I’d run around with them all day and rest when I got to work. I had no social life. I was always with my boys.” (HA)

About how they stressed education to their boys, Hazel said:
“My husband and I really pushed our boys to get their diploma and go to college so they could get a good job. We always checked who they were around and we pushed them to complete their education.” (HA)

Praising his mother, Tommy said:
“My mother doesn’t get much credit, but she was right there with us in a silent way. She’d go to church every day to pray for our family. Whenever there was a game or an event, she was the team mom. She was our strength.” (HA)

HA Note: “Tommy and Ron followed their father’s footsteps to Saint Louis; Cal attended the recently opened Kalani. All three were excellent athletes, particularly in football.”

Crediting his father for his passion for football, Cal said:
“He was ahead of his time. Even when we were losing, he never said anything negative, never blamed the coaches or the players. I think if he had been negative, I might have gone away from the game.” (HA)

About how sports motivated him to keep up with school, Cal said:
“To be honest, I wasn’t the best student. I was at the bottom of the pack, but I knew that I had to work hard academically to be able to play. The great gift is that sports help you to attain goals that might not even realize are there at the time. I hate to think where I would be now if I wasn’t fortunate to have two loving parents to help me achieve that.” (HA)

HA Note: “Tommy would go on to earn All-America honors as a quarterback for Willamette University in Oregon. Ron and Cal, an All-American at linebacker, would also play for the school after stints in junior college.”

About his response when his brother Tommy asked him if he wanted to be an assistant coach under him at St. Louis, Cal said:
“He asked me if I wanted to come home. So I said, ‘When do I leave?'” (HA)

HA Note: “Ron later took over the head coaching position at Kaiser, where Cal joined him as an assistant. Together, they led the Cougars to four consecutive Honolulu District titles and a Prep Bowl championship in 1979.”

About his early coaching career, Cal said:
“It wasn’t always easy, and we weren’t always successful in the beginning. But our parents were always there supporting us. We didn’t want to disappoint them. My mom would come to games but she wouldn’t watch, she’d be praying for us. We never wanted to let her down.” (HA)

HA Note: “Reunited, Cal and Ron turned Saint Louis into a national powerhouse. Under the Lees, the Crusaders would win 14 Prep Bowl titles, 18 Interscholastic League of Honolulu championships and the inaugural Hawai’i High School Athletic Association state championship, inspiring equal measures of respect, fear and despondency throughout the local prep landscape. The Lee brothers’ success would continue with Tommy coaching at Portland State, San Antonio’s World League entry, at Montana-Western, Ron at Oregon Tech and Saint Louis, and Cal at St. Louis (as athletic director) and the Hawaiian Islanders arena football team.”

About how she didn’t know that her sons would go into coaching, Hazel said:
“We pushed them so that they could one day get good jobs and live happy lives. I didn’t know that they would all be coaching, but we don’t mind because that’s their passion and they are helping others.” (HA)

HA Note: “Each Sunday, the Lees attend church together at Star of the Sea, then retire to Zippy’s for their weekly family breakfast.”

About his family, Cal said:
“We’ve been hanging out since we were kids and we’re still hanging out.” (HA)

HA Note: “The Lee lineage in coaching continues with Tommy’s son Pohai, the former Damien athletic director, assuming the role of offensive coordinator at Montana-Western.”

Justifiably (in my opinion) proud of his sons, Thomas said:
“I’m not a boastful person, but I am awfully proud of my sons. My wife and I have good boys.” (HA)


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