The UH linebacker -- and the coaching staff -- have been rewarded for their faith and perseverance
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Aug 11, 2010
Po'okela Ahmad knows that dreams do not come with deadlines.
After four years, Ahmad, an outside linebacker, has earned a significant role with the University of Hawaii football team.
That was a relatively short wait compared to the one his mother endured. In September 2009, his mother was told that she was approved for a house on Hawaiian homestead land. The family moved into the Kapolei house this summer.
"My mom waited, like, 30 years," Ahmad said. "She said it was a blessing to see how God works. She said it was a reward for patience."
Ahmad's family had lived in a townhouse for most of his life.
"Living in a house is cool," Ahmad said. "Every weekend, I come home and do housework. I'm helping to put a yard in. It's fun. It's a great adventure."
Patience also has benefited Ahmad, who has been practicing as a first-team linebacker when the Warriors are in their 45 defense, a scheme that utilizes a nickel back.
"Po'okela is bright," defensive coordinator Dave Aranda said. "He understands defenses. He's a good coverage backer. He's improved in his skills. He's a guy who's very dependable."
Ahmad, a 2006 Kapolei High graduate, originally signed as a grayshirt. The plan was for Ahmad to pay his way as a part-time student in the fall of 2006, then join the Warriors in January 2007.
But because of subpar grades, he was told he would not be allowed to join the team until the summer of 2007 -- and that would be subject to an improved academic performance.
"Basically, after that, you have two choices: You can take it as a blessing and learn from it and work harder, or you can fall down and blame the world for it," Ahmad said. "My mom and my family were supporting me. I started working hard in class and studying harder."
Ahmad improved enough to be welcomed to the team in June 2007. He now is on track to earn a bachelor's degree in December. With two seasons of eligibility remaining, he hopes to begin work toward a master's degree in January.
"Thankfully, the coaches gave me another shot," Ahmad said. "I learned a lot about time management."