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Tuesday, October 21, 2014         

WARRIOR FOOTBALL | NOTEBOOK


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Strength coach Steen earns his promotion

By Stephen Tsai

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The Hawaii athletic department has been strengthened with Grant Steen's promotion to assistant strength and conditioning coordinator. He will work with the UH football and men's volleyball teams.

Steen succeeds Mel deLaura, who resigned in February to accept a job at Southern Methodist. Tommy Heffernan is UH's head conditioning coordinator.

"They couldn't have selected a better guy," UH head football coach Greg McMackin said of Steen. "He's got a great athletic background. He understands athletes and conditioning. He's a great complement to Tommy Heffernan, who's one of the best I've ever been around. I give both credit for having our team in great condition."

Steen was a linebacker at the University of Iowa. He participated in the New England Patriots' training camps in 2004 and 2005, lasting until the final cuts both years.

He played in Europe and Canada, as well as with Arizona in the Arena Football League. That last stop is where he met Nick Rolovich, now UH's offensive coordinator. At Rolovich's urging, Steen applied for a graduate assistant's position in the UH strength program. He was hired two years ago to help with UH's football, men's volleyball and golf programs.

"He's got a passion for it," Rolovich said. "He's been with the Patriots. That commands a little bit of respect."

Steen, who is working on a master's degree in higher education, said he never imagined working in Hawaii while growing up in Emmetsburg, Iowa, a 3-hour drive from Des Moines. He said Emmetsburg is "the equivalent of Kahuku" in regards to the passion for wrestling and football.

Steen and his wife were married on Kauai, and he was raised near a lake.

"The ocean lifestyle and football fit hand-in-hand," he said of two of his interests. "I'd love to be here a long, long time. I'm excited about contributing to everything, and keeping these guys on track, on and off the field."

 

THE REST PAID OFF

Defensive end Paipai Falemalu hit the sack.

Then he accumulated sacks.

"I'm very grateful for the bye," Falemalu said of the weekend preceding the past Saturday's 41-7 victory over San Jose State. "I got to rest. I got to heal my body up. It was good."

In the first 10 games, during which the Warriors did not have a bye, Falemalu did not record a sack. Falemalu, who has endured wear-and-tear ailments, was more energetic against the Spartans, making three sacks and forcing a fumble.

"I came out differently," Falemalu said. "It had a lot to do with the bye. I came out fresh."

Defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga said: "He kept grumbling how he never got any sacks. But he got them in a bunch."

Falemalu said he is adjusting to defensive end. In training camp, he was given the hybrid role of linebacker/end. After the third game, he was made a permanent defensive end.

Falemalu deflected praise, saying his production against the Spartans was a result of a collaborated effort.

"As a d-line, we executed together," he said.

Fewer busted assignments, he said, helped "the defense play as one. That's when plays start to happen."






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