Dudoit kept Kalani football on his mind right to the very end

Apr. 19—Nothing stopped Radford Dudoit from dreaming.

Nothing stopped Radford Dudoit from dreaming.

Circumstances didn't change his vision. Not a medical nightmare. Amputation of his legs. Nothing could remove hope from the heart of Kalani's football coach.

Just a few weeks after undergoing life-saving surgery at Stanford, Dudoit still had a passion for coaching and his love for the young men who played for the Dirty Birds, and later for the Kalani Falcons.

Dudoit's battle ended in February, nearly a year after suffering a near-fatal reaction during heart surgery. A celebration of his life will be held at Kalani High School on Sunday from noon to 3 p.m.

"I pretty much say my prayers every day, " Dudoit said in August 2023. "Being able to have family come visit helps a lot. The motivation for me to get back on the field, that kind of drives me, too. I know it's going to be a long time."

Dudoit, 46, had hopes of returning to coaching in 2024. There were FaceTime chats with his team, occasional visits from his coaches and players.

"I watch game film. They always try and stream the game on their phone. It's not the same, but I'm glad I get to watch. I'm happy with what they're doing, " he said. "We have a really good senior class. A lot of these boys played on our Big Boyz team, the Dirty Birds. We used to practice at Kapiolani Park when they were in eighth grade. Then COVID hit, then we started working out again. This is my group, my first group that I went all four years with."

He thanked Kalani's team moms and his coaches, including Quinn Griffiths, who became the youngest (interim ) head coach in the state at 24.

"He was always a cool, calm and collected guy. I played with his son, Preston, " said Griffiths, a former quarterback. "Coach always cracked jokes. He was always taking care of business."

He last saw Dudoit in the winter.

"I visited him in the hospital. He was out for a little bit, then rehabbing from home. He was doing better, " Griffiths recalled. "He wasn't doing too great, then all signs pointed in the right direction. Then I got that phone call and that was devastating. Zabrina was his rock through this whole thing."

Dudoit's companion, Zabrina Kama, was there through the 40 days and nights at Stanford, going to the local Ronald McDonald House to shower, then returning to the hospital. She was the ultimate "football wife."

"Everything was about football. Our relationship was on hold. I knew he was about his boys, getting them into college, " she said.

Relationships are just about everything in high school coaching. His hope to return got an extra boost during his recovery.

"He got good news that the Lee brothers (Cal and Ron ) wanted to go to Kalani and help him. He was so ecstatic. He wanted to tell everybody, but he waited, " she said.

In the end, friends and family cared about his health. All Radford Dudoit wanted was to coach again. In the end, he impacted a new generation of players and future coaches, including Griffiths.

"So many people loved him and appreciated him. He's touched so many people's lives, " Kama said. "He had tunnel vision. He was everyone's dad, cousin, brother, friend."

When his right hand was amputated, she was at a loss for words as he regained consciousness in the hospital.

"He woke up and said, 'Is my hand gone ?' I said, yes. He said, '(Stuff ) happens.' My nephew, it was hard for him to see his uncle, but Kaimi said, 'I'm alive. I can coach you. Who cares if I have no limbs ? Get on the field. I'm here."

Kama hopes Dudoit's legacy remains alive through the young men he mentored, and all the young people he shared his hopes with.

"With my daughter, it was go to school, continue with your education. You want to be a doctor, a nurse, anything, explore the world. Don't just stay in Hawaii. Just try it, at least. Don't give up, " she said.

Though they were together for years, Kama and Dudoit weren't legally married. With four children on coach's side and two on hers, they planned on getting married at age 50.

"When all this happened, I said, life is too short. Let's get married, " she said.

Time ran out. On Sunday, the Kalani community gets a chance to share their memories and nurture the seeds of what Coach Dudoit planted.