Character First

Character First

By Amanda Brandt, BA’14

Former Bluejay tennis standout and 2014 Creighton Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Rusty Komori, BA’91, coached the boys varsity tennis teams at Punahou School in Honolulu to an unprecedented 22 consecutive Hawaii state championships.

But it’s what he’s accomplished since retiring from coaching in 2015 that Komori thinks will be his legacy.  

“That was just a springboard for everything I’m doing right now,” Komori says of his streak of titles, part of a national-record 25 straight state championships won by the Punahou boys tennis team at the time of his retirement.

Komori turned his coaching philosophy and attitudes about success into a recently released book, Beyond the Lines. Writing the book was more than a two-year process for Komori, who still holds the top spot on Creighton’s career singles wins list, with 81.

The book came from Komori’s desire to help a wider audience achieve their goals.

Komori was named head coach at Punahou in 1994, at the age of 24. Before leading his first practice, he came up with a general framework to structure his coaching style. The philosophy of “the Four Ps,” as he calls it — people, purpose, process and performance — has stuck with him through the years, both on and off the court.

“My first priority was to develop champion athletes of character first, and great tennis players second,” says Komori, who earned multiple coach of the year honors, including several at the national level. “I feel like success and winning are dependent on the values, principles and discipline of the leader, and those qualities he or she instills in the team.”

In the years since first formulating his coaching philosophy, Komori has found it to be applicable to individuals in any number of roles — from parents to teachers to CEOs.  

“Everyone’s been involved on a team at some point in time, whether it’s sports, debate club, business,” Komori says.

In addition to the book, Komori has developed a television show, also titled Beyond The Lines, for ThinkTechHawaii.com. He also works as a guest speaker and leadership consultant, in addition to continuing to teach tennis lessons. It’s a life that Komori says makes him excited to greet each day.

“Every day I wake up and think, ‘What am I going to do to today to help people, to inspire and motivate them to reach their maximum potential?’”