Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Saturday, May 25, 2024 79° Today's Paper


Sports

Linemen stick together

Stephen Tsai
1/1
Swipe or click to see more
PHOTOS BY CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
Adrian Thomas, left, was raised in Sydney; Laupepa Letuli grew up in California, and Bula Ginlack went to Kahuku High.

One spoke with a heavy Australian accent. The other hardly spoke.

According to Hawaii offensive lineman Laupepa Letuli, the first conversation between Sydney-raised Adrian Thomas and Kahuku High graduate Brysen "Bula" Ginlack went like this: "It was ‘hmmm’ and ‘haaaaa,’ and a lot of eyebrows moving."

"I remember Bula used to sit around with his headphones on and not talk to anyone," Thomas said.

"Now," Letuli added, "you can’t shut him up."

Ginlack said: "Shut up!"

The three then roared with laughter.

"We’ve had a lot of history," Letuli said.

Indeed, the three starting offensive linemen — Ginlack and Thomas are guards, Letuli is the right tackle — are the senior members of the Warriors football team.

Each is a 2005 high school graduate; each has a different background.

Letuli, a member of UH’s 2005 recruiting class, was raised in California. Because of several injuries, he was awarded a medical hardship that allowed him to play as a sixth-year senior in 2010.

As a grayshirt, Ginlack delayed enrolling full-time at UH until January 2006.

In Australia, the school year ends in December. Thomas also did not join the Warriors until 2006.

The three were assigned to Hale Anuenue, a dormitory whose name translates to rainbow house.

"It was like living in a big house," Ginlack said. "Our doors were always open. We’d walk into each other’s room. We were like brothers over there."

The dormitory, just outside the gate near UH’s Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Center, was centrally located.

"We were close to everything," Thomas said. "After practice, we could walk to our room. We could walk to (the convenience store)."

On weekends, a barbecue grill was set up in the area behind the dormitory.

"We made ribs, kal bi," Ginlack said. "People made dessert. We had chicken, and oysters. We brought like four dozen oysters."

Letuli, an accomplished singer, would provide the music.

"The first time I met him, I thought he was kind of loud," Thomas said. "But he could sing."

The three recalled how each was recruited by Mike Cavanaugh. When Letuli was mulling offers between UH and Oregon State, Cavanaugh gave his best sales pitch, even promising that Letuli could wear No. 50.

Letuli made a verbal commitment; soon after, Cavanaugh announced he was leaving UH.

"Now he’s at Oregon State," Letuli said, shaking his head.

Wes Suan was the offensive line coach in 2006; Dennis McKnight in 2007; Brian Smith and Alex Gerke in 2008; and Gordy Shaw the past two seasons.

"We had to adjust," Thomas said.

They said McKnight and Gerke were the same in WWE style. The most unique arrangement was when Smith coached the right side of the line and Gerke the left.

One season, some of the line calls were made in Samoan. In another year, Australian phrases were used.

"Instead of ‘dog,’ we would call out, ‘dingo,’ " Thomas said.

Although they are leaders now, their best memories were of the 2006 and 2007 seasons.

"We were young and restless," Letuli said, "and we still got to play a little bit."

Thomas said: "We’ve been here for a while. We’re real close. We go to movies. When we’re on the road, we try to do stuff together. We’ve worked hard to stay together as a group. It’s been working so far."

 

Comments are closed.