Flagstaff, Arizona is a beautiful city. It has mountains, lots of sun, and a nice dry climate.
But Kainoa Pe’a was still a bit shocked when he arrived in Flagstaff a few years ago. He was a freshman linebacker from Hawaii who had to make some major adjustments. Not only did he have to get used to college life, he had to adapt to a new climate and culture.
Pe’a is one of four NAU players who come from Polynesia. Pe’a, Sam Unger and Mana Purdy all hail from Hawaii. Tooolefua Samuelu comes all the way from Western Samoa. Despite the differences between Arizona and their homelands, all of these players contribute to the success and diversity of the program. Pe’a, who was hurt all of last year, is expected to be a force on the defensive line. Samuelu had a great spring and is expected to compete for a linebacker spot in the fall. Unger and Purdy are both freshmen, but have improved over the past year and should see playing time as well.
As the video shows, all of these guys miss home at times. They love the warm weather, the ocean, and their culture, but they feel their time at NAU is invaluable. They’re meeting new people, experiencing new things, and most of all, getting a chance to play football.