Sun Devil Summer School: The Coaches - Bill Kajikawa

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By Brad Denny By Brad Denny

During the lengthy history of the program, there have been countless individuals who have left an indeliable mark upon Sun Devil football history. From iconic coaches to All-Americans, the maroon-and-gold have had their share of legends.

Yet, through it all, it was a man who never earned all-conferences honors on the gridiron, nor was the football team's head coach that has rightfully earned the title 

Following an active career in several sports at Phoenix High School, Kajikawa enrolled at the then-Arizona Teachers College in 1933. He made his gridiron debut for the football team the following year, and earned three letters in the ensuing seasons as a halfback for the team. Showing off his great athleticism, Kajikawa also played three seasons of baseball and one of basketball at the varsity level.

Immediately after he graduated in 1937, Kajikawa began his legendary coaching career for the school by taking over the reigns of the freshman football team, a post he would maintain until his retirement in 1978. Over that span, he served as an assistant under nine different Bulldog/Sun Devil head coaches.

The only interruption during that span was the time that Kajikawa spent serving the United States during World War II. He was a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Unit, comprised entirely of Japanese-Americans, and they would go on to become the most decorated unit in the U.S. Army.

Resuming his coaching career after the war, Kajikawa began to build his incredible Sun Devil resume.

He became the head coach of the new Sun Devil baseball team, a position he held from 1947-1957. During that same span, he pulled triple duty, coaching the basketball team from 1948 through 1957.

His successful stint on the hardwood earned him an induction into the Arizona Basketball Hall of Fame in 1968. Another major honor came in 1982, when the man known as "Mr. Sun Devil" was enshrined into the ASU Hall of Distinction.

Both Kajikawa and his wife Margaret were heavily involved in community service, receiving several other awards for their charitable work.

In 1995, Kajikawa received yet another honor, as the Sun Devil football practice field was named after this truly remarkable man.

Even though Kajikawa passed away in 2010 at the age of 97, his legacy lives on in every aspect of Arizona State University, both on and off the fields/courts/diamonds.