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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 81° Today's Paper


Different strokes for different Warrior folks

Eyes closed.

Shane Austin:
He might not look the
part, but Warrior QB is
Samoan language tutor

Listen to the Samoan language tutor’s easy delivery.

Eyes open.

"I know I look like a haole," said quarterback Shane Austin, who is indeed Caucasian, "but I took that class a couple of years, and I’m tutoring student-athletes."

University of Hawaii football players have found different ways to keep busy this summer.

Safety Spencer Smith and slotback Kealoha Pilares were instructors at the recent Koa Kids Football Camp.

Linebacker Jake Heun competed in a mixed martial arts fight.

Defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga works in UH’s recreation department, helping to coordinate sporting activities for UH-Manoa students. One of his assignments called for him to referee dodgeball games.

"People are very competitive," Meatoga said, laughing. "I used to see things from the players’ side. Now I can see things from the other side. It’s a lot different, being on the other side."

Up until several years ago, nearly all football players worked summer jobs. But the offseason football-related demands have increased in recent years. One reason is that players, including incoming freshmen, are encouraged to take summer-session classes. Not only can they earn as many as six credits each summer, but scholarship players also receive stipends for living expenses and meals. Their summer days are filled with classes, homework and workouts.

"Our job is football," said offensive tackle Laupepa Letuli, a gifted musician who turned down an opportunity to work as a luau entertainer this summer. "I could have played (music), but I thought it was more important to focus on training."

"I would rather work out than make money," Smith said. "We want to win the WAC. That’s our goal, not making extra money."

But walk-on players, like cornerback Kawika Ornellas, need to work to pay for tuition and school expenses. Ornellas has a part-time job at a retail clothing store in Pearlridge.

"It’s relaxing, chilling in an air-conditioned room," Ornellas said. "I fold clothes, work the register, talk to people. I try to sell things."

Ornellas manages to attend all of the offseason conditioning drills and 7-on-7 practices.

"I’m working because I need the job," Ornellas said, "but I’m focused on football, too. I’m focused on staying in shape and having a good year."

Austin and wideout Mike Tinoco work in the Nagatani Academic Center, which is on the first floor of the UH athletic complex. Both have not missed a workout.

"It’s fun to be a tutor," Austin said. "You learn as you teach. It also helps you with leadership and working with people, which will definitely help you later in life."

Quarterback Bryant Moniz, who goes on scholarship next month, has quit his job delivering pizza to work at a surfboard stand in Waikiki.

"It’s awesome," Moniz said. "I sit behind the desk, tell people the price, tell them what type of board they need. ‘Can we get two surfboards for these gentlemen? Next.’"

Moniz said he learned the key to communicating with Japanese-speaking tourists.

"Myoji," he said of the word that roughly translates to surname. "That’s the only Japanese word I know. Every time they rent something, I have to get their last names. So I asked someone, ‘How do I say last name in Japanese?’ They said, ‘myoji,’ so it’s myoji. I see a lot of Australian guys down there. They’re always saying, ‘Cheers, mate.’ So it’s, cheers, mate, too."


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