Aoki first visited PLU as a junior in high school. The Hawaii native had a classmate a year older attend the University. During spring break, Aoki and a teammate made the visit to check out the campus.
“I had a classmate of mine who graduated a year before me and he liked the school. So during my senior year, one of my teammates who eventually played football here- David Chun, we ended up taking a spring trip to visit the school. We liked what we saw. We came from a smaller private school so it was very similar.”
Aoki always thought he was destined to coach. His first chance came as a sophomore, serving as the junior varsity assistant at Bethel High School for two years. He was a volunteer assistant for the Lutes as a senior before taking the head coach job at Bethel High School.
He coached at Bethel for 12 seasons, qualifying for the state tournament in nine of those seasons before accepting the job at his alma mater.