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Brothers Kane, Kip Ioane carry father's athletic, family legacy to positively impact communities

Posted at 4:36 PM, Feb 20, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-20 18:36:13-05

BILLINGS — Put Kane Ioane in front of a room full of football coaches — talking ball, breaking down defensive fundamentals, espousing his philosophies — and you know he's in his element.

Ioane was in full-on coach mode Saturday at the DoubleTree Hotel as the Kas Ioane Foundation, a charitable nonprofit established in his father's name last year in the wake of his Alzheimer's diagnosis, held its first coaching solutions seminar in Billings.

The seminar's list of presenters was impressive. New Nevada head coach Jeff Choate, Boise State receivers coach Matt Miller, Montana State defensive coordinator Bobby Daly, Oregon State receivers coach Kefense Hynson and Zionsville (Ind.) head football coach Scott Turnquist, another Skyview grad, were among those who spoke.

The seminar was held primarily for high school coaches, of which 60 or so attended. Aside from needing more space to operate, the event went about as well as it could have.

"Coach Choate filled the room. We couldn't even get everybody in here," said Kane Ioane, a Skyview alum, former Montana State All-American and now the defensive coordinator under Choate at Nevada. "I thought it was really good. Really good."

Ioane's passion for coaching comes from his dad. Kas Ioane, 72, spent nearly two decades as an educator and coach in Billings School District 2, positively influencing young lives on the basketball court, the golf course and in classrooms and hallways throughout Billings Skyview High School.

The news of Kas' dementia diagnosis brought a sense of sadness and concern to those in the community who love him. And so many do.

Kane Ioane's presentation Saturday was mostly about Xs and Os and his ideas on coordinating defense in a college football world increasingly geared toward offensive creativity and fireworks. But at its core was a deeper commitment: to keep his father's legacy alive.

Alzheimer's and dementia are terrible afflictions for which there is no absolute cure. Still, for the Ioanes this was a time for action.

"Yes. 100%. This is about continuing my dad's legacy from the standpoint of what he has stood for his whole life," Kane said. "What he has done as far as his mission statement and who he has been, we want to continue that type of impact and positive influence in this community and other communities across the country.

"Events like this are just going to help drive that cause and continue to shed light on the legacy that my dad has."

That is also the overall mission of the Kas Ioane Foundation, which held a fundraiser golf tournament in Billings last summer and plans more events in the future, like a basketball coaches seminar in July. The funds raised Saturday will be targeted for SD2 to earmark toward post-high school scholarships.

At the outset of his talk — before getting into the finer football details of eyes, stance, leverage, footwork and technique — Kane mentioned his parents and the influence Kas and Rhonda Ioane, who have been married for more than 40 years, have had on him and his older brother Kip.

The brothers, co-founders of the KIF, watched their dad connect with and positively influence countless people through education and athletics, which they have both gone on to do in their own professional lives.

Kip, a 1997 Skyview grad, was a men's basketball coach at NCAA Division III Willamette (Ore.) for 22 years, including 14 as head coach. Kane spent 13 years as an assistant with the MSU football program under three head coaches (Mike Kramer, Rob Ash and Choate) among stops at Washington, Boise State and now Nevada.

But Kip and Kane include the Kas Ioane Foundation among the most important things they've ever done.

"We are functionally sad," Kip Ioane said, discussing how the family has coped with the news of Kas' malady. "Where do we take our grief? But Pops is in such a good space still, battling it. So let's activate the goodwill he's built up over the years in the community and help raise money to fight the disease, but also, his passion was the community, his passion was the kids.

"So this (seminar) is a direct tie to that. Let's help coaches get better. If coaches are getting better helping kids, then that's another Kas Ioane-type impact we can have."

Part of Kane Ioane's presentation included the mantra of "small things equal big things," whether it's a player using a seemingly mundane technique on the football field to cause a turnover or loving sons building avenues toward larger community impacts.

Kane's passion may be football, but he's also all about family, humility and leadership, and influencing others for the better through connection and trying to be at his best every single day.

Just like his dad has always been.

"As a family we are choosing to create a pathway so that this thing is less of a negative and more of a positive," Kane said. "And that's the whole ambition of this foundation, to create some awareness to this terrible disease, but also understand that we as a family are not going to just lay down and be like, 'Oh, woe is me.'

"It's all about, let's flip this thing and create some positive momentum and continue that legacy as far down the road as possible."

For more information about the Kas Ioane Foundation, click here.