Bejay Hewitt is your typical, born-and-bred West Auckland rugby league man. He talks with Julian Raethel about the influence of his grandfather and his step up to coach the Te Atatu Roosters premier side.
There were no arguments over the dinner table about which sport young Bejay Hewitt would play.
Especially when his grandfather was a prison warden at Mt Eden for 35 years.
"Everyone I knew played rugby union but my Grandad wouldn't let me play anything other than league. He thought it was a true hard man's game."
The league fanatic grew up playing halfback for Glenora and Waitemata, giving a touch of irony after his appointment as head coach of the Te Atatu Roosters.
"I grew up idolising players like Gary Freeman and Clayton Friend," Hewitt says.
"They were the two old-school Kiwis I wanted to play like."
Hewitt even trialled for the Junior Warriors in their maiden year of 1995.
But things didn't pan out for the young halfback and he decided to hang up his competitive boots at the age of 23.
"I still played on socially but decided if I couldn't make it as a player then I‘d coach instead.
"I rang up a few clubs and Te Atatu was the only one that got back to me," Hewitt says.
The 35-year-old now lives with his family in Bethells Beach.
He's been coaching for 12 years, starting with the junior grades.
Although his under-15s side were on the other end of some big scorelines, the same squad made the semifinals two years in a row up to under-18s.
"Even though we were getting smashed, the players were running back to kick the ball off with smiles on their faces," he says.
"The hardest thing with coaching kids can be the parents.
"When you're playing competition footy and some feel their child isn't getting enough game time it can make things awkward."
But now Hewitt's got his sights firmly set on his premier team gaining promotion from the Sharman Cup to the Fox Memorial competition.
"We've got a two-year-plan to get there.
"To do that we need to build a strong squad that will stay with us right through."
Name: Bejay Hewitt
Role: Premier coach at Te Atatu Roosters Rugby League Club
Lives in: Bethells Beach
Favourite television show:The Walking Dead
Favourite music: Reggae
Favourite dish: Spare ribs
If I wasn't coaching rugby league I'd be: Fishing
- Western Leader
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