Leighton Wong ULS Athletic Support Fund
The Leighton Wong ULS (University Laboratory School) Athletic Support Fund was established in 2022 by fellow ULS alumnus, Ted Rachlin class of 1991,in honor of the late Leighton Wong, class of 1973.
Leighton passed away in 2003 doing what he loved to do, playing basketball, diving for a loose ball. Not only was Leighton an accomplished tax attorney, husband, and father of two, but he was also a friend and mentor that touched so many lives in millions of ways. His gregarious personality, energy, and passion to help others is what made him a natural leader to those in need. Leighton played point guard at ULS and was member of the ULS 1973 Championship team. Leighton’s love for basketball brought him back to his alma mater to coach the ULS boys’ Intermediate, Junior Varsity, and A Varsity basketball teams from 1983-1987. Leighton coached the game the way he was taught, hard work, grit, and determination. You played with discipline, you played selfless team ball, you hustled for every loose ball, and you were not afraid to take an offensive charge – the MEAN GREEN mentality!
Coach Leighton never cut anyone who came out for his teams. No experience or skill level was required; his only prerequisites were to give your all and play for each other. He provided an avenue for kids to play sports for the first time. His patience and passion for the game of
basketball, and to teach, allowed hundreds of kids to learn to play the game of basketball, team comradery, hard work, and often experiencing the joy of just scoring their own basket at least once in their life.
Although Leighton instilled these mean green traits in his players, it was the non-basketball
lessons that resonated with the players he coached. Leighton provided numerous opportunities for personal growth. The life lessons that he shared with his players were instrumental in building young men of character.
Testimonies from two former players:
"Leighton Wong was an amazing mentor, coach, role model, and cheerleader. While the score was always important, it was more important that his players gave everything to the team and themselves. There were no excuses, only a high expectation to achieve excellence and a passion that inspired me long after the games, the season, and high school went away. I was never a starter for the team, I was never the player you would give the ball to when it was tied and there were 3 seconds left, I really was more of the player you put in when you were up by 20 and there were 3 seconds on the clock. I played left-bench for a season, and I loved the opportunity just to be a part of the “mean green” team. I was so limited in my ability that Leighton came up with play just so that I could score once in a game. Two of my players would screen me in the baseline corner so I could take a shot and not be blocked. After several attempts of running the play at practice and games - swish. The hours of running
lines on the hot blacktop court, the free-throw challenges when there was nothing left in the tank after each practice, the staying late after practice with him helping to continue the pursuit of living up to his belief in me just for two points in an entire season - I would not change it for the world. I was blessed with the opportunity to be a part of his team, and to be valued through his unwavering guidance and support. Leighton genuinely believed in the potential of each of us individually, and it was through his unconditional support of our collective individual assets that a true team was developed both on and off the court. Wearing the mean green attire when we took the court was not about the look, but about the connection and pride, we all had with each other. I am still terrible at the game of basketball, but I am a better person at the game of life because of my time with him. Grateful, inspired, and blessed."
-Jeff "the Rock" Rachlin ULS class of 1990
ULS Boys Intermediate Basketball - 1984-85 season
"The lessons that I learned from Leighton Wong over 35 years ago, remain ingrained in the way I live my life today. I can remember playing intermediate basketball in the 7th and 8th grade. Back then, it was the single most physically demanding event I had ever done in my life. We started practice running a mile, which made having to make 10 layups in a row as team more challenging. Suicides runs as a team were followed if these 10 layups in a roll were not accomplished. I remember doing 1000 jumps as a team at practice. Exhausted by mid practice, we still had to work tirelessly on defense, press drills and offensive plays. Each practice ended with the infamous suicide runs. No other team would out work, out run or out hustle our team. We were competitive because we performed well under pressing circumstances. The training and preparation were instilled in all of us from day one. To improve, you must make the uncomfortable comfortable.
Leighton’s basketball lessons were clear, but it was the lessons he shared beyond basketball that impacted me the most. I remember one time; we had a scrimmage scheduled in Waialua at 7pm. I had no ride. Without hesitation, Leighton offered to give me a ride to the scrimmage after he finished work. I met him by bus at his office in downtown. From there we headed out to get a snack at the restaurant of champions – McDonalds where Leighton fed me first. We then proceeded to the North Shore around 4pm. The ride was a solid hour and half because of traffic. Now remember I was just in the 8 th grade, having to ride with my head coach for an hour and a half. Didn’t know what to expect. I was worried for nothing. Leighton made that ride seem too short. He shared with me personal stories of him and his family, how basketball helped him with his life and then made it about how it would help my life. His message was clear about the importance of hard work in the classroom and being a servant to others. He was giving back to kids at an age where our young minds needed impressionable leaders and mentors. He was certainly a coach, who wore many hats. I was glad on that day, I got to know and connect with the man wearing the mentor hat, the man wearing the human being hat! I will be forever grateful to have been coached and mentored by Leighton Wong. He is truly missed and loved by many!"
- Todd Clark - ULS class of 1989
ULS Intermediate Boys Basketball – 1983-84; 1984-85
The Leighton Wong ULS Athletic Support Fund will continue Leighton’s legacy. The heart of this fund will be centered around perpetuating support to ULS intermediate boys’ and girls’ basketball programs, where all students can have an opportunity to play a team sport, even it is for the first time. It will allow students to learn the game of basketball, but more importantly lay the foundation in preparing our young students with life lessons to work hard and serve
their school and community with pride. The Leighton Wong ULS Athletic Support Fund encapsulates the memories of Leighton and the Wong family.