There was an error in this gadget

Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Washington High football star Cedric Lousi excels despite difficult times



TWO YEARS ago, Cedric Lousi was at football practice at Washington High when the horrible, unthinkable news was delivered. His father, also named Cedric, had died of a heart attack that afternoon while playing tennis.

Suddenly, a Huskies team that was gearing up for its big game against perennial power James Logan was devastated by tragedy. The elder Lousi, who was just 41, left behind his wife and five children. The oldest son, then a sophomore and very close to his father, took it the hardest. A promising future was quickly thrust into despair and uncertainty.

"I didn't think it was real," he said. "I didn't feel like going to school anymore. I knew I had to, but I didn't feel like doing much work when I did go, so I just sat there and didn't really say much. I just waited for the time to pass."

Lousi (pronounced LOH-see) not only missed his dad, the unexpected death created a precarious situation for the family, which had moved to the United States from New Zealand in 1999. The father was the sole provider, and he was in the process of trying to establish U.S. citizenship for himself and his family when he died. With little income and lacking citizenship, it looked as if the surviving family members would be deported back to New Zealand.

Fast forward to today. Lousi, now a senior, is a standout two-way player and team captain for Washington, which plays Pittsburg on Saturday night in the North Coast Section Division I semifinals. At 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds, he is being recruited by BYU, San Jose State and several other schools as a defensive end/tight end with a lot more going for him than just his football talent.

"He's just one of the special individuals I've ever been involved with in youth sports, because beyond his skills as an athlete, he's a young man who simply represents the good in people," Washington coach Ken Wittmer said. "He is always the first one in the locker room on game day. He's there to help me with anything I need. I've had three years of nothing but joy having the guy around. He's just been raised very, very well."

So what happened?

First, a number of people came to the aid of the Lousi family after the father's death, notably parishioners from Fremont's Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, where the family attended. Washington High held a fundraiser, as well. Ultimately, citizenship was established and the family got back on firmer financial footing.

Psychological wounds were healed, too. Through the counsel of Wittmer and others, Lousi came to the realization that life had to go on.

"During that summer after my sophomore year, something hit me ... I just manned-up about my dad passing away and let it go," he said. "It was meant to be, I guess, so the next year I just came out and worked twice as hard at everything — school, football, life. I realized you have to take advantage of all your opportunities when they're there because they only come once. I also thought that if I worked hard and somehow pulled off a scholarship, it would lighten the load off my mom and also help pave the way for my brothers and sisters."

Lousi, who was born in New Zealand but is of Tongan descent, has become one of the most respected and popular kids at his school. He's a three-sport athlete who also plays volleyball and basketball for the Huskies. He's also helped pave the way for his brother Haniteli, now a sophomore on the football team.

"To me, it would have been an injustice to Cedric to have to leave the country and not have a chance to play football, go to high school, maybe earn a scholarship and be a contributor to society," Wittmer said. "And he's going to be a contributor, somebody I look back on and say, 'I was lucky enough to coach him.' He's just a great kid. Every mother wants their daughter to go out with a kid like him."

Lousi returned the compliment, saying Wittmer — an off-campus coach who is an air-traffic control supervisor — helped him get through the toughest emotional times.

"Ever since my dad passed, he's been like a father figure for me," he said. "He's always looking out for me and also helping me get my name out there to colleges, in addition to being an awesome coach."

Lousi still reflects on his father, who introduced him to football in the eighth grade and used to sit across the street from the practice field and watch, then critique his son's play when he came home.

"I think he would have been proud how things have turned out," Cedric said.

No comments: