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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Arizona QB Willie Tuitama has Ventura County, Carroll ties

Arizona QB has county, Carroll ties

By Bill Winfield, Special to The Star
September 23, 2006

When USC faces Arizona in Tucson tonight, it will be a reunion of more than annual Pacific-10 opponents. The Wildcats starting quarterback, Willie Tuitama, and USC coach Pete Carroll have ties that go back years. The Tuitama history is also one that is rooted in local Ventura County sports lore.

Most Pac-10 football fans know Arizona's sophomore quarterback, affectionately known in Tucson as the "Throwin' Samoan," is an honor student and two-sport star from Stockton's St. Mary High.

Longtime Oxnard residents will recognize the Tuitama name as one associated with a large family of extraordinary athletes at Hueneme High in the 1960s and '70s.

Willie is the son of Louie Tuitama (Hueneme High '73), who was an All-CIF linebacker for coach Jack Davis. Louie Tuitama went on to play middle linebacker for Ventura College and later at University of the Pacific in Stockton, where he was an all-conference performer in the old PCAA.

The year before Louie Tuitama arrived at Pacific, an enthusiastic defensive back named Pete Carroll finished his playing career and began as a graduate assistant working with the defensive backs. Louie Tuitama and Carroll struck up a fast friendship. Among the things they had in common was volleyball. They played together in two-man volleyball tournaments during the offseason. Both married volleyball players from the Pacific team. Nancy and Glenna were the first two female volleyball players to receive scholarships at Pacific.

Over the years, Louie and Nancy Tuitama and Pete and Glenna Carroll have kept in touch and remain friends. So when Carroll brings his Trojans to Tucson to face the talented young Wildcats signal-caller, he can be forgiven if it feels like he is coaching against a nephew.

The volleyball tradition has also continued in the Tuitama family. Louie and Nancy's oldest daughter, Tiare, played volleyball at Cal State L.A., where she graduated in 2006 while garnering honors as a first-team All-American. She now coaches at East L.A. Community College.

The Tuitama family athletic accomplishments include the oldest brother, Olympic boxer Toa, and twin brothers Leloi and Teloi (Hueneme '69). All three were All-CIF in football and wrestling at Hueneme.

Today, Leloi and Teloi still reside in Oxnard. Teloi works for the Oxnard Fire Department. Leloi is the postmaster in Ojai.

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