POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jul 03, 2009
It was a first.
He hopes it won't be the last.
Alema Te'o brought the All-Poly Football Camp to Hawaii for the first time this week. The camp, a mainstay in Utah that is in its ninth year, continues to draw big-name coaches from the college ranks — even with the economy struggling.
Planning for the first Hawaii camp went back several months, with Te'o securing a field at Kapiolani Park in January, anchored in a faith that Hawaii's top players would come out. Many did, and even Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona spoke to the campers on Wednesday.
Te'o's relationships with prominent coaches is a big reason for the consistent success. UCLA assistant Norm Chow was among the instructors this week.
"When our coaches came here, Norm Chow was probably our strongest advocate for coaching our best," Te'o said. "You gotta earn every rep."
Another speaker was Rex Ryan, new coach of the New York Jets. Their advice was taken well.
"They talked about football affecting your life. Each coach really stressed education," Saint Louis running back Sean Valente said, noting a talk by Boise State assistant coach Viliami Tuivai in particular.
"Coach (Brian) Cabral said the best athletes are the ones who work the hardest," Saint Louis receiver Jordan Fukumoto said of the Colorado assistant who prepped at Saint Louis.
Before donning full pads and banging heads, campers were bused to Kaimuki Middle School, where they took a practice ACT test. It's all part of All-Poly's push for young student-athletes to prepare for college sooner rather than later.
"Our focal point is to get as many kids into college as possible," Te'o said. "It's gotta be a collaborative effort. Parents and kids have to be proactive and work with their counselors."
For every athlete who isn't recruited by an elite program, there are others who can establish themselves at camps like All-Poly.
That scenario is quite common, particularly for athletes who don't fit the mold just yet. Andrew Togiai, a free safety from Taylorsville (Utah) High School, is 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds.
Showing his considerable skills at multiple camps is key, but the trip to Hawaii gave his family a chance to visit family in Laie. His parents, Gina and Kaio, are Kahuku graduates.
"It's a big deal to come here and perform for coaches," Kaio said. "Kids here have heart and pride from wherever they're from. This is the only place where the small guy can beat the big guy because of heart."
Some new scholarship offers were made this week. Texas Tech, which landed former Farrington standout Sam Fehoko two years ago, made offers to 'Iolani defensive tackle Sealii Epenesa and King Kekaulike lineman Elvis Matagi, according to Fehoko's mother, Linda. Louisville offered scholarships to Punahou defensive end Jonathan Sani Fuimaono and Sam Fehoko's younger brother, V.J., who now has 16 offers.