Maui Football Combine 2012 Partners with Sport Testing.com

Posted in HIsportsfolio.com, Maui Interscholastic League on April 21, 2012 by hisportsfolio

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The third annual Maui Football Combine will be held Friday, June 15, at Lahainaluna Stadium. Athletes are required to check-in at 4 p.m. The official testing starts at 6 p.m.

“We are always looking for ways to improve,” Maui Football Combine Director Rodney Yap said. “So when the opportunity to form a partnership with Sport Testing.com presented itself we were excited about the possibilities.

“Sport Testing.com is a Toronto-based company that shared our vision for the Maui Football Combine and understood the obstacles our athletes face being on the Neighbor Island.”

Sport Testing.com is a sport-specific, state-of-the-art athlete assessment company.  “The digital equipment, big-screen monitors and laser timing their experts are bringing here elevates our combine to a professional standard Hawaii has never seen before.”

“It’s a thrill for us to be able to come to your beautiful state and test your athletes,” said Sport Testing Cofounder Jonathon Hollins. “What makes our solution especially good for Hawaii-based athletes is that the data we collect is accurate, standardized and shared in a way that protects privacy, yet lets you know how you stack up to rival and higher level athletes. So Hawaii can benchmark and compete easily with other athletes from around North America for scholarships – without having to travel as much.”

“Unlike with hand times, coaches, athletes and scouts can all put their trust in Sport Testing data,” Hollins added. “As a neutral third party running unassailably accurate timing gates, we take bias, human error, and lack of standardization out of the equation.”

“A half-second difference on the 40 can represent millions of dollars or months of hard training. Why leave that up to somebody else’s reflexes? We look forward to showcasing your state’s talents in football.”

Registration is open online at Maui Football Combine. The deadline to register is 6 p.m., June 5. No late entries will be allow.

The Maui Football Combine is open to all Maui Interscholastic League underclassmen football players. Current freshmen, sophomores and juniors are eligible. St. Anthony, Molokai and Seabury Hall 8-man football players are welcome to participate. Visiting or off-island athletes need approval before being cleared to register.

Underclassmen girls are encouraged to participate and must register as a team with their respective head coach.

Athletes will be tested for speed in the 40-yard dash, explosive lateral movement in the Pro Agility Shuttle, change of direction in the 3-Cone Shuttle, lower extremity explosiveness is measured in the Vertical Jump, and upper body strength in the bench press.

The event is free. Physical profiles and test results are posted online for interested coaches to view.

“I encourage all interested athletes to register early and start preparing. We want our kids to post impressive numbers,” Yap said. “Every athlete who plans on being tested should attend the Hard Naks High-Performance Speed Camps held every Saturday.”

Former Baldwin and Utah State receiver Cody Nakamura and his staff meet every week. Football combine-specific training is part of Nakamura’s summer schedule.

Adolpho, Long Receive Warm Welcome From Home Crowd

Posted in HIsportsfolio.com, Maui Interscholastic League, Prep / College with tags , , , , , on March 25, 2012 by hisportsfolio

Former MIL players “excited” to be home

By RODNEY S. YAP / HIsportsfolio.com

Nothing could spoil their homecoming, not even a straight-set loss to Nebraska.

For two former Maui Interscholastic League players — Kalei Adolpho and Ginger Long — Friday’s reunion before family and friends resembled a spiritual awakening. The sold-out crowd of 2,500 embraced every move the two players made, acknowledging its support with loud cheers and colorful posters.

For the first time in more than 20 years, Mauians share in the religious experience known as University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine volleyball. From the pregame music provided by Maui High’s marching band, to the singing of the National Anthem by former UH men’s volleyball player and Kihei resident Kala’e Camarillo, to the fan-generated wave that circled the stands in the fourth set.

Former UH volleyball player and Kihei resident Kala'e Camarillo sings the National Anthem. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

Adolpho and Long are the only Neighbor Island girls from the seven local players on Hawaii’s 14-member roster. After signing autographs and posing for pictures, Long was able to go home with her parents, Tab and Evelyn.

“We had a lot of family and friends here who have supported the girls over the years and we were all really excited to have her here,” said Evelyn Long. “I spoke to here in the morning (before the match) and she was very calm. She was trying to get all her laundry done because on Sunday they leave for Florida to play sand volleyball.

Ginger Long's parents, Tab and Evelyn, talk with family and friends during a break in the action. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

“I don’t think she knew how much she was going to play or how she was going to contribute. . . . I am sure she is pretty surprised to have so much court time, but she needs that experience after redshirting last year.”

“I miss my family a lot and I’m excited to go home,” said Long, who finished with two kills and played the entire fourth set. “But I’m also excited because on Sunday afternoon we hop on a plane and go to Florida.”

Long is one of 10 players on the current roster who are headed for Florida for three events, beginning with its first meeting against Division I opponent Jacksonville on Tuesday.

Collegiate sand volleyball is an emerging sport. Once there are 40 sponsoring institutions for two straight years, it will be considered an NCAA championship sport. Sixteen schools are sponsoring the sport in this initial season.

Ginger Long awaits the signal from the lineman to serve to Nebraska. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

The season lasts eight weeks or until the end of the school year. UH will play the Division I minimum of eight dates, including a season-ending event April 7 at Queen’s Beach in Waikiki.

“I enjoy it a lot,” said Long, who partnered with freshman setter Elizabeth Blake at last week’s inaugural tournament against HPU and Nittaidai of Japan. “We did really well, we finished tied for third. It’s fun to be out there. It’s a good experience.”

Long had a tournament high 22 kills in a quarterfinal upset against No. 2 Natasha Bell and Sanoe Recca of HPU, 21-19, 21-19. Long and Blake were seeded No. 10 and loss in the semifinals to No. 3 Jane Croson and Larissa Nordyke, 21-8, 21-10.

After sand volleyball, Long said she plans to return home for the summer in hopes of getting stronger.

“I want to comeback and get back in the weight room with coach Mikey (Labuanan). I do miss home a lot, I was home last month, but you always want to come back.”

Adolpho, who is Hawaii’s only two sport female athlete, earned a much needed return to the Friendly Isle, after playing both volleyball and basketball.

“I’m actually going home tomorrow and I’m really excited about that,” said Adolpho, who had four kills against the Huskers. “I get to stay for a week because of spring break.”

Former MIL players Ginger Long and Kalei Adolpho try to block the kill attempt by Nebraska's Hannah Werth. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

Unlike Long, who redshirt last season, Adolpho played in 25 matches as a middle blocker. She recorded 54 kills to go along with 56 total blocks. Adolpho had a breakout performance in late September, finishing with seven kills and eight blocks with an .875 attack percentage against Utah State, and was rewarded with more playing time.

“Yeah definitely, the experience I got last year has helped me, especially with my confidence,”  said the daughter of Carl and Vesta Adolpho.

“I got to start a couple of games and played in some big matches. All that is just building and helping me for next season. I am so thankful for all the game time I got last season. I hope to continue to build on top of that and try to pick up were I left off and keep going.”

When asked if she was tired from playing back-to-back sports, Adolpho shook her head, and said: “No, not as much as you would think. It’s not bad. I mean I’m a little tired but it’s exciting to keep working and getting better.”

Adolpho adjusted to the change of sports almost seamlessly. In her college basketball debut against Denver on Dec. 19, she had a team-high 15 rebounds.

In 21 games played, she earned two starts, averaged 6.4 rebounds and 6.0 points per game. Coming off the bench, she averaged 19.4 minutes a game. Her 134 rebounds was third on the team, as was her .412 shooting percentage.

“Kalei has been with basketball and has only had a week of practice and it shows,” said Hawaii coach Dave Shoji, after the Rainbow Wahine fell to Nebraska, 25-23, 25-16, 25-15, 25-16. “She’s a little rusty out there, but we really like her potential. Ginger has had a really good spring, I think she just tried too hard tonight, but she’s getting better and i expect both of them to contribute next year.”

The Rainbow Wahine team lineup before the start of its exhibition match against Nebraska. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

Shoji said the transition from high school to college is especially difficult on Neighbor Island players who don’t get to play at a high level of competition — week in and week out — in comparison to girls on Oahu.

“It’s just tough. It’s tough for all the local kids who don’t get the competition all-year round. But they are coming around and I really like their attitudes and their work ethic.”

In accessing the team’s immediate future, Shoji said he is looking for players to fill the void left from the departure of middle blocker Brittany Hewitt and the graduation of outside hitters Kanani Danielson and Chanteal Satele.

“I see we have some firepower on the left with (Emily) Hartog and (Jane) Croson, and Mita (Uiato) is a really good setter so those three positions are solid. We have to get somebody to step up in the middle and I think Jade Vorster in time will be a good player. Kalei also has potential and Kristiana Tuaniga has been in the program for three years now so we have got to get more production out of them. I thought Kaela Goodman struggled tonight, we expected more out of her and I think we’re going to get more out of her.”

As for Long, Shoji said, “She can play either left or the right. We need help on the right but I think she can help us in a double-sub kind of situation. But really its going to be up to her and how much she trains this summer and gets stronger, and her skills have got to get better too.”

Maui fans give the "home team" one final cheer at the end of the match. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

Updated: Baldwin-St. Louis Highlights Tentative 2012 MIL Football Schedule

Posted in Hawaii Prep Sports, HIsportsfolio.com, Maui Interscholastic League with tags , , , on March 9, 2012 by hisportsfolio

No byes during County Fair Week

By RODNEY S. YAP / HIsportsfolio.com

WAILUKU — The 2012 Maui Interscholastic League football schedule is highlighted with a preseason game at Aloha Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 25, between MIL perennial champion Baldwin High School and Interscholastic League of Honolulu powerhouse St. Louis School.

St. Louis head coach Darnell Arceneaux called Baldwin head coach AJ Roloos last month and the coaches agreed on a “home and home” schedule with the Bears traveling this fall and the Crusaders coming to Maui in 2013.

“I thought it would be a good opportunity to play a quality team,” Roloos said of St. Louis, the 2010 state champions under Arceneaux.

Although no contract was signed, Roloos is counting on Arceneaux honoring their gentlemen’s agreement.

“It’s supposed to be a home-and-home deal with them coming to Maui next year. I am hoping they will keep their word.”

The tentative MIL football schedule has players reporting for conditioning Thursday, July 26. The first preseason weekend is Aug. 10-11 and the MIL regular season starts with Maui High hosting Kamehameha Schools Maui at War Memorial Stadium on Friday, Aug. 24. Lahainaluna faces King Kekaulike the next night, Saturday, Aug. 25, while Baldwin has a league bye and will play St. Louis in the second game (7 p.m.) of a scheduled doubleheader at Aloha Stadium.

Right now Kekaulike is the only MIL team with two scheduled preseason games — its opener against Roosevelt on Saturday, Aug. 11, followed visiting Kauai on Aug. 18. Both games will be played at Kekaulike Stadium.

Kamehameha Maui is hosting Kapaa in preseason week one after traveling to the Garden Isle last year.

As it stands now, Lahainaluna and Maui High do not have preseason games scheduled, but both schools are still trying to nail down commitments.

Several MIL schools, Baldwin and Lahainaluna in particular, received early commitments from Big Island and California schools only to have them pullout due to coaching changes or financial difficulties.

For the Lunas, part of it is by design as bleachers will be installed, along with the construction of a two-story press box at Lahainaluna Stadium. Work is scheduled to start in the summer and run through the fall.

“So we’re not hosting any games,” said Lahainaluna co-head coach Bobby Watson. “The bleachers and the press box are part of the (master) plan.”

The Lunas anticipate playing all their home games in Lahaina in 2013 for the first time ever.

For now, Watson said his team will travel to the Big Island and play a series of scrimmages during the first preseason week if they are unable to schedule Kealakehe or Pearl City.

Note there is no bye week during the Maui County Fair weekend, Sept. 28-29. Instead, both Upcountry schools — Kekaulike and Kamehameha Maui — will be hosting games that weekend.

This year’s first and second rounds are in the same order and each team was given an equal number of Friday and Saturday games.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Connected with St. Louis head coach Darnell Arceneaux after story was posted. Below are Arceneaux’s comments.

Coach Arceneaux said, “We are definitely coming to Maui next year. We’re going to do everything we can to make the trip. I have plenty for friends that have played at Baldwin, including my former Utah teammate and friend Chad Kauhaahaa.”

“We’re excited to play a top caliber team like Baldwin. We have a very tough preseason schedule this year, but we believe to be the best you have to play the best. We open with Farrington (Aug. 18), then Baldwin (Aug. 25), and the week after Baldwin we play one of the top teams in the country in Bishop Gorman.”

The Labor Day weekend game against Bishop Gorman is tentatively set for Saturday, Sept. 1.

The powerhouse Gaels from Las Vegas claimed their third straight 4A classification state championship in 2011 and closed the season with a 16-1 record and consensus top-10 national ranking. In the three championship game wins, Gorman has outscored Del Sol (2009), McQueen (2010) and Reed (2011) by a combined 174-49.

The Gaels’ quarterback, Anu Solomon, who will be a senior next fall, passed for five of Gorman’s eight first-half touchdowns against Reed High of Sparks, helping the Gaels to a 48-point halftime lead and a 72-28 final.

The three state titles are a first for a large-school classification team from Nevada since Northern Nevada’s Wooster High in the mid-1980s, giving Gorman a 43-3 record since head coach Tony Sanchez was hired in 2009 with no defeats against an instate opponent.

Baldwin Sophomore LB Offered Scholarship to Hawaii From Coach Chow

Posted in Hawaii football, HIsportsfolio.com, Maui Interscholastic League with tags , , , on March 9, 2012 by hisportsfolio

Jordan Hoiem at the Nike SPARQ Combine on Oahu last month. Photo by Tom Hauck / ESPNHS.

‘It’s pretty mind-blowing . . . I’m still in shock about it’

By RODNEY S. YAP / HIsportsfolio.com

WAILUKU — Baldwin High School sophomore Jordan Hoiem received a scholarship offer via telephone from University of Hawaii head football coach Norm Chow Tuesday afternoon.

Hoiem got a message from Baldwin head coach AJ Roloos that Chow wanted to talk to the 6-foot, 4-inch, 208-pound outside linebacker.

“I got a Facebook message from Coach AJ that he wanted to talk to me so I called him right away,” Hoiem said. “I wasn’t expecting a scholarship offer. I thought he was going to tell me that they’ve been watching me . . . but I’m stoked.”

The 65-year-old Chow told Hoiem that when he graduates, “I got a scholarship waiting for me” to attend UH.

“It feels great. It gave me a huge boost of motivation and confidence. Now I feel like working out 10 times harder in the weight room.”

Hoiem, a Maui Interscholastic League second-team all-star, put up impressive numbers last month at the Nike SPARQ Combine on Oahu. His SPARQ score of 88.11 ranked him 11th out of 453 participants. He was also named to the Hawaii All-Nike Combine Team by ESPN HS, made up of the top 25 players.

Hoiem was one of three underclassmen linebackers chosen to the Hawaii All-Nike Combine Team. He ran his 40-yard dash in 4.88 seconds, his pro-agility shuttle in 4.35, tossed the power ball 39.5 feet, and had a vertical jump of 27.6 inches.

“UH has always been one of the schools I’ve wanted to play for,” Hoiem said. “I was kind of worried I wouldn’t get recruiting because I live on Maui. It’s pretty mind-blowing right now. I’m still in shock about it.”

Hoiem’s recruiting status was elevated after his strong performance against Punahou in the semifinals of the 2011 state football tournament at Aloha Stadium. Although the Buffanblu bested Baldwin 35-0, Hoiem had a team-high five solo tackles (7 overall), including two for minus 8-yards and he also broke up a pass. OC16 televised the game and its broadcast team was complimentary of Hoiem and praised him repeatedly on replays of his two tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Hoiem said his conversation with Chow was short and sweet.

“We were talking story and he told me he has family on Maui. Then he invited me to their spring practice and told me to come to their (Green & White) scrimmage.”

Chow’s Warriors will open spring training on March 21. The Warriors will practice Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. They will take a week off for spring break after March 23. The tentative date for their annual Green-White scrimmage is set for mid-April at War Memorial Stadium.

Despite having only 39 days before the official signing date on Feb. 1, Chow and staff managed to sign three of the state’s top prospects – linebacker Benson Fonua (Kahuku HS), running back Steven Lakalaka (Punahou School), and offensive lineman Kiha Sai (Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama). Fonua was the state’s defensive player of the year this past season while Siha was rated as the No. 3 recruit in the state and Lakalaka was picked as the fifth-best prospect.

Kahuku junior John Wa‘a, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound offensive lineman, is the first local player from the 2013 graduating class to commit to UH.

Chow promised to raise the bar in recruiting locally and he appears to be keeping his word.

“He told me, ‘With the skills you have I know you’re going to get other offers, but I wanted to be the first.’ It’s a good feeling to know that he wants me and is willing to make the offer now. I couldn’t be happier.”

Nakamura hopes Hard Naks is answer to fit, fast, fun

Posted in Hawaii Prep Sports, HIsportsfolio.com, Maui Interscholastic League, Prep / College with tags , , , , , , , on February 16, 2012 by hisportsfolio
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Former tight end Cody Nakamura at a Weber State preseason football practice in 2009. Photo by Keith Johnson of the Deseret News.


Maui coach makes 7-month commitment to local athletes


By RODNEY S. YAP / HIsportsfolio.com

People who remember Cody Nakamura during his playing days at Baldwin High School, recall a versatile, multi-sport athlete, who made an impact in everything he did. Back then, it was mostly football, basketball and baseball.

Now, the 2010 graduated from Weber State, is looking to make a difference off the field, as a coach sharing his knowledge and experience with athletes from as young as 5-years-old to high school seniors. He is hoping to educate, build self esteem, and improve health and overall strength to athletes who attend his weekly Hard Naks High-Performance Speed Camps.

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Cody Nakamura. Photo Weber State Athletics.

“I definitely feel like there is a need for this. I already had the idea, but I kept pushing it back and pushing it back for whatever reason,” said Nakamura, who joined the Baldwin football staff last fall coaching wide receivers. “But after losing to Punahou (35-0), I said, ‘We need to get this started.’ ”

Nakamura, a former all-state wide receiver and Big Sky All-Conference Third Team All-American tight end, is determined to bridge the gap between Maui and Oahu, as athletes on Oahu are trying to keep pace with athletes on the Mainland.

“There’s a big difference in what our athletes here are doing in comparison to what the kids on Oahu are doing. The kids on Oahu are trying to train like the kids on the Mainland, that’s why they are so ahead of us. The difference is a lot of those kids (on Oahu) train for football year round. There isn’t a lot of opportunity for our kids to get high-quality training.”

Prior to returning to the Valley Isle, Nakamura spent nine months training at Athletes’ Performance Inc. (API) at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Considered the most advanced athletic compound in the world, its 85-acre complex is the training center for many of America’s top athletes. It was there that Nakamura participated in two Pro Days, before 10 to 12 NFL scouts, in hopes of extending his football career with the Canadian Football League (CFL) or Arena Football League (AFL).

HardNaks.logo“At API I learned to maximized my workouts . . . by finding a perfect medium of not over training or under training. I learned it’s not about training harder, but training smarter,” said Nakamura, the manager and co-owner of Yogurtland in Kaahumanu Center.

With 28 Saturday’s, or seven months, from now until, Aug. 25, the week before MIL teams can officially start conditioning, Nakamura plans to gradually raise the bar. He promises to introduce more equipment, change the site from week to week over the summer, and have regular guest speakers from college coaches and players, to educators and nutritional specialists.

“We’re going to start out with basic drills and as we go I will introduce things like parachutes, sleds, resistance and assistance bands . . . progressing with the workouts we do.”

For instance, he said, “We’ll go to the stadium one week and utilize the bleachers and track, then maybe the next week we’ll go to the beach and do change of direction and acceleration.”

Starting this Saturday and for the next three weeks, Hard Naks will be meeting at Maui Tropical Plantation. Camps are separated by age groups: Elementary School (5 to 10 years old), from 8 to 9 a.m.; Intermediate School (11-13 years old), 9 to 10:30 am; and High School (14-18 years old), from 10:30 to Noon.

The cost for the camp is $10 (cash only) and participants are encouraged to come 15 to 20 minutes before the scheduled start time to register.

Former Baldwin and USC linebacker Kaluka Maiava will be Saturday’s special guest.

For more on Hard Naks High-Performance Speed Camps go to: http://www.hardnaks.com/

Hard Naks Assistant Trainers include:

Kawika Kahui, Baldwin 2002, San Diego State, football

Brett Nakamura, Baldwin 2000, University of Hawaii, football

Erica English, Baldwin 2006, Yuba City College, soccer and track

Chad Nishikuni, Baldwin 2005, Chaminade University, soccer

Akamu Aki, Baldwin 2003, Montana Western 2004, Weber State 2007, football

Cameron Higgins, St. Louis School 2006, Weber State University 2011, football

Trenson Himalaya, Baldwin 2005, Dixie State University, football

Baldwin’s Tasini to play college football at Utah

Posted in Maui Interscholastic League, Prep / College with tags , , , , on February 4, 2012 by hisportsfolio
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Baldwin's Pasoni Tasini signed his National Letter of Intent to attend Utah University on Wednesday. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

Family celebrates “Dream Come True”

By RODNEY S. YAP / HIsportsfolio.com

WAILUKU — For Baldwin High School’s Pasoni Tasini every school day ends with practice. In the fall, there’s football. In the winter, there’s basketball. In the spring, its track and field.

Its practice, after all — and lots of it — that has made Tasini the Maui Interscholastic League’s most celebrated athlete since Kaluka Maiava in 2005. So it should come as no surprise that on the eve of National Letter of Intent (NLI) day, Tasini was at home practicing his signature, knowing that in less than 12 hours he would be officially signing to attend Utah University.

“I made sure to spell my name right,” Tasini laughed. “I was practicing last night, but my signature looked horrible today.”

Even with his mom, Nola, by his side coaching him, Tasini felt anxious and uneasy. Signing your name on a piece of scratch paper was easy for a guy who played four sports and is the returning MIL Athlete of the Year. Signing your name to the official document that you’ve dreamed about for years, and will provide you an opportunity that few MIL athletes receive, is a little gut-wrenching even for an all-state performer like Tasini.

“I was actually kind of nervous,” Tasini admitted. “I was more nervous than my mom, I know that.”

“I had trouble sleeping last night,” Nola Tasini said.

Normally a pillar of strength, mom stayed solid on the outside as she watched her son sign, while inside she was experiencing early stages of separation anxiety.

“I was so excited and nervous at the same time,”  the prideful mother of six said. “I worry about him leaving home. That’s my biggest concern. I don’t worry about anything else, but he’s never left home . . .  this will be the first time for him.”

Tasini’s commitment to Utah capped a two-year recruiting frenzy that started when former Baldwin head coach Chad Kauhaahaa came to visit the 6-foot, 4-inch, 250-pound defensive end wearing Utah’s red and white school colors. The Utes had just named Kauhaahaa its defensive end coach and Hawaii area recruiter. Ironically, Tasini was the only Hawaii recruit from the Utes’ 28-player signing class of 2012.

Kauhaahaa’s diligent pursuit of Tasini was the difference as far as mom was concern.

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Nola Tasini talks about her son Pasoni. Photo by Ben Juan.

“I am extremely happy with Utah, because when he first told me they had come to talk to him I said, ‘good.’ Then the other schools started talking to him and I told him I will let you think and chose what you want and where you want to go.”

“Then last year after the state (football) tournament Hawaii was interested and I said, ‘oh good,’ cause it’s close to home. But they really wasn’t into him,” Nola said. “But like I said, I would let you chose and I’ll give you my idea. I liked Utah because they were into him from the beginning.”

Utah’s coaching staff made its final pitch last Saturday, at the peak of his four-day recruiting trip to Salt Lake City, and once Tasini heard their six-year plan for him, he said he was sold.

“I realized how much they wanted me. They sat me down and talked me through the whole plan and how everything is going to work out for me. How they are going to hold the scholarship for me and allow me to go on my mission first . . .  that was the turning point for me. The plan is to get my mission over with first and to come back and get started. That’s when I felt like Utah University was the place for me.”

“This is a dream come true for him,” his mother said with a smile. “Ever since he was a little kid he’s set goals ever year. I am very proud of him. We came in early and signed and then I went home to call all the family and let them know what was going on.

“I told Pasoni that I let him go on his mission because I cannot follow him, but when he comes back I am going to go to Utah to be near him.”

Tasini’s informal celebration was held during lunch in Lisa Kakiuchi-Gima’s classroom. The 23-year veteran business teacher, who specializes in entrepreneurship, felt Tasini’s accomplishments deserved recognition above and beyond the hall of fame wall in her classroom bearing Ben Juan posters of past and present student-athletes.

“He exhibits qualities that I admire in a student,” Kakiuchi-Gima said. “If I tell him what he needs to work on he does it willingly and doesn’t complain about it.”

Kakiuchi-Gima re-told a story of a recent registration that required set up and clean up.

“Of all the students, he was the only one to go back and get the tables. No one wants to do that job, but he’s so humble. That’s what I like about him and that’s what I told him today. I’ve read the articles that’s been written about him and he’s honest about saying things like: ‘I have to work hard still’ and ‘There is still plenty of hard work ahead of me.’ You don’t see kids doing that or saying things like that these days. He’s just a warm and loving kid.”

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Tasini signs his name to the official document from Utah University. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

“He’s very humble and respectful,” said Baldwin Account Clerk Jaye Arakaki. “He will not hesitate to help you if he sees you carrying something, he’ll automatically come to you and help. You seldom see kids do that now days. He’ll open the door for you. He always greets you when he sees you, he’s just a really good boy.”

School counselor Marci Nakagawa was one of the many staff members who came by to congratulate Tasini and sign a poster to wish him well next fall.

Three-sport teammate Semisi Finau said he will miss Tasini next year.

“He’s a great guy. He does all the right things,” Finau noted. “He’s the first one at practice and the last one to leave. He’s always doing extra and always giving his best effort in practice. He doesn’t dog anyone, he’s just a great guy.”

Baldwin Athletic Director Kahai Shishido said the school is lucky to have an athlete of Tasini’s caliber who is also a model student.

“He’s an amazing talent, but more impressively he’s an amazing person,” Shishido said. “Very humble, very soft-spoken, a great role model, just a well-rounded person. We are very fortunate at Baldwin to have him be a part of our program. He never complains and is such a great teammate, he never gets down on his teammates, always positive and always accepting responsibility for all of his actions. He has unbelievable character and is a genuine, honest person.”

“I am glad it’s done,” Tasini said about the signing. “Now I can concentrate on school. School is my focus right now.”

Tasini said he plans to skip volleyball after basketball and concentrate on track only in the spring. Last year he finished fourth in the state shot put with a throw of 53 feet, 1 3/4 inches.

“Because of volleyball he never got into a rhythm last year,” said Baldwin’s shot put / discus coach Anthony Perry. “He’s very naturally talented and has God-given talents. I think once he starts concentrating on just football, we’re going to really see how good he can be.”

As far as his ability in the ring, throwing the shot put and discus, Perry said Tasini can be a dual state champion.

“He’s got a great understanding of what he needs to do and he works very hard at whatever you tell him to do,” Perry concluded. “Plus he’s ultra competitive and he always performs his best in big meets.”

Tuipulotu will get his chance to impress NFL scouts

Posted in Hawaii football with tags , , , , , on January 21, 2012 by hisportsfolio
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Maui's Kaniela Tuipulotu (49) prepares for battle at Aloha Stadium

Warrior lineman to play in East-West Shrine Game

By RODNEY S. YAP / HIsportsfolio.com

Former University Hawaii Warrior Kaniela Tuipulotu will get his chance to showcase his skills to NFL scouts at the upcoming 2012 East-West Shrine Game later this month and then at the Athletes’ Performance facility in the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. on March 5.

Tuipulotu, an All-WAC Conference Second Team defensive lineman, is from Lahaina. He started his prep football career at Lahainaluna High School before transferring to Kahuku his sophomore season.

The 6-foot-2, 300-pound Tuipulotu was a two-year starter with the Warriors and named the team’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2010.

It was Tuipulotu’s desire to be closer to home that led to his transfer from Arizona in 2009. Since his arrival to Manoa, the academic all-WAC performer who graduated in December with a degree in sociology, played in 27 games and finished with 66 career tackles. Out of high school he was considered one of the highest rated recruits in the state.

East-West Shrine-logoJoining Tuipulotu at the 2012 East-West Shrine Game will be teammate Vaughn Meatoga, a senior from Kalaheo, Kaua’i. The pair proved to be a formidable frontline for the Warrior defense as Meatoga started nearly every game since his sophomore season.

The East-West Shrine Game is the longest-running college all-star football game in the country and features some of the highest-rated players in the projected NFL draft ranking. While the teams are divided by East and West, the players come together for the beneficiary of the event, Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Former Minnesota Vikings head man Brad Childress will coach of the West Team on Jan. 21. Bobby Ross, who is perhaps most remembered for coaching the San Diego Chargers, is the head coach of the East Team.

If there is one place NFL coaches and scouts can find new talent to fill their rosters, it is the East-West Shrine Game.

The players from the 2011 East-West Shrine Game class are proving to be one of the more talented classes in recent years. Of those 100 players, 52 are on NFL rosters and 18 are on practice squads. This means that an astounding 80 percent of the players from last year’s game have moved on to the NFL.

East-West Shrine Game Director Harold Richardson draws from his 25 years of coaching experience in the NFL and college level to attract top players, NFL scouts and coaches to the annual game.

“The East-West Shrine Game is making a statement – that  we are and will continue to be one of the premier places to find NFL talent,” said Richardson. “The success of these players is also a testament to their character and how hard they have worked to achieve careers in the NFL.”

Meatoga will join Tuipulotu in Carson City, Calif. on March 5 as well. Agents Kenny Zuckerman and Michael Hoffman were instrumental in arranging the showcase for their UH clients, which also includes Aaron Brown. The players will work out for NFL scouts as Draft-eligible Warriors who played in 2011 will be the only athletes allowed to participate.

Because of the head coaching change at UH, it is not known if there will be a separate UH Pro Day, which used to be held a few weeks before the NFL draft, also at the Home Depot Center.

www.shrinegame.com.

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According to Frank Cooney of The Sports Xchange, just one of the many NFL Draft Scouting agencies, Tuipulotu is rated No. 39 out of 188 defensive tackles.