Born May 8, 1965 of Samoan descent, hailing from Laie, Oahu Ken Niumatalolo is an American football coach and former player. He is currently the head football coach at the United States Naval Academy, a position he’s held since the 2007 season. Ken is the first ever of Samoan descent to hold a head coaching position in NCAA FBS, Div 1 football, 2nd Polynesian to hold the position. Larry Price (Hawaiian) was first at the University of Hawaii, 1974-1976.
As mentioned, Niumatalolo is from Laie, but attended Radford High School as a two sport star playing both basketball and football for the Rams.
As quarterback in 1981, during Niumatalolo’s Junior year Radford’s head coach John Velasko passed away on the eve of the OIA West finals. Shocked and in disbelief, Niumatalolo led the Radford Rams into victory over Waianae. Emotions running high, Radford went on to beat the Castle Knights in the OIA Championship. Niumatalolo then lead the Rams to a 1981 Hawaii State Football Championship over ILH Champion St Louis still in the midst of mourning the passing of Coach V.
The 1981 Radford High School Football story is one of the greatest sports stories in all of Hawaii’s sports history.
After graduating high school in 1983, Niumatalolo served two years as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in California. He went on to play as an option-oriented quarterback at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Niumatalolo led the Rainbow Warriors to it’s first ever NCAA bowl appearance, the Aloha Bowl in 1989.
Once his playing days were over he stayed with Hawaii taking a position as a graduate assistant. By 1992, he maintained a full-time assistant position. In 1995, Niumatalolo accepted a coaching position at Navy as a running back coach. The following season, he was promoted to offensive coordinator.
In 1999, Niumatalolo left Annapolis to become an assistant at UNLV. While in Las Vegas, he called all offensive plays and also worked with the kickoff return unit.
Niumatalolo returned to Navy in 2002, this time as an offensive line coach. On December 8, 2007 Ken got the call from the Naval Academy, he was promoted to head coach. Under head coach Niumatalolo the Navy Midshipmen have captured the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy in 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013. Navy has played in 7 bowl games during Niumatalolo’s tenure. He is one of the most winningest coaches in Navy history and it seems he’s found a home for a very long time to come.
Ken Niumatalolo was inducted into the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame on January 23, 2014.